On Wednesday last week, the kids were invited to a birthday party. S&S’s daughter, Jathi, was turning one. It was a grand affair at a nearby club.
The kids have quite got the concept of birthday parties now. If I bake a cake – a not infrequent occurrence nowadays – or if I light a candle (an extremely frequent occurrence, necessitated by the almost daily powercuts in the evening), they immediately start crowding around and singing happy birthday to you.
A late evening birthday party that starts after their dinner time and ends after our dinner time is a slightly novel concept to them, but if I had been worried about their energy levels and manageability (which I might have been if I’d had a moment to think about it; but after I resumed working, I’ve completely given up the luxury of thinking) I needn’t have bothered. From the start, they were in great spirits, running around everywhere and getting up to all kinds of – mostly harmless – mischief. They attacked the food with gusto and went through an embarrassing quantity of chicken. Thus fortified, they decided to gang up with V&V’s son, Vidit, and get down to serious work.
First, it was bubbles. There were these small plastic cylindrical containers full of soap solution, into which you dip a small plastic skewer-type thingy (there must be names for these objects, but somebody will have to enlighten me) and it picks up a thin film of the solution, and then you blow on it and you get a stream of bubbles.
Vidit was quite good at it, and there were a couple of older kids who were absolute experts, but Mrini and Tara were seeing these marvels of science and technology for the first time ever. They were thrilled to bits, but spectacularly unsuccessful. They grinned and giggled, spilt the solution, and swallowed a fair bit, frothed at the mouth and looked pleased as punch, but they got hardly one or two tiny bubbles out of it all. It was completely heart-rending, somehow somewhat uplifting, and thoroughly entertaining to watch these two tiny tots huffing and puffing with all their might, only for all their efforts to be rewarded with more spittle and soap solution than bubbles, while all around them other kids got streams of bubbles with complete ease. Their puzzlement was almost as great as their delight.
After all the soap solution had been spilt or ingested (it must have cleaned out their insides wonderfully, they suffered no ill-effects of the spicy food), the three of them turned their attention to the balloons.
There were lots and lots of balloons decorating the place. The older kids had started by bursting them with toothpicks, but had tired of it long before they made a serious dent in the stock of balloons. Armed with spoons, our three little musketeers attacked the balloons with complete determination. Working as a team, they cornered a bunch, pinned it down to the floor and mercilessly jabbed hapless the balloons with the butt-ends if the spoons, till the bunch was completely annihilated. Then, they went on to the next bunch, and they kept it up until there was not a single balloon left within their reach.
It was a most marvelous and entertaining way to spend an evening, for both performers and audience. Bubbles and balloons – the simple pleasures of childhood.