Umang, a young girl from Delhi, always devoted to social work, shifted to Rajasthan to work with a humanitarian organisation that fought for girl child rights. Umang was the youngest volunteer among them with immense zeal and enthusiasm. This was her first project venture. She felt strongly for the rights of a girl child.
Different places have different dialects, cultural beliefs and customs. Some believe that it is a waste of time and money to send girls to school, while others are conscience-stricken and embarrassed to talk about sanitation and hygiene. It is completely unfortunate that women are dubious to talk about issues like this even in the 21st century.
After working for three months with the organisation, it was her birthday which she was looking forward to. Having jumbled up emotions of happiness and despair, she was bewildered. She had never been far away from her family and friends on her birthday.
“Shall I announce it to them? What if they already know and they judge me for being too excited?”, she wondered if she should announce it to her organisation.
A week before her birthday she began to plan her day. She shopped for authentic Rajasthani clothes, jootis and junk jewellery. She spent her evenings finding a picturesque, bustling and charming place where she could go for a spin on her birthday. She made new resolutions for the coming year like to begin doing yoga, learn new healing practices, having less spicy food, etc.
“My birthday would be incomplete without my people and beers”, she fished around but could not find a perfect place. Frazzled, she came back home with no certain plans for the week.
At last, the day arrived and she woke up with endless phone calls. She wore the best outfit and walked down the stairs with a skip in her steps. Her colleagues greeted her but nothing newsworthy happened. She was expecting a day off but unfortunately, her colleagues had different plans for her. “Is it wrong to expect something than usual on your birthday?”, the thought captured her mind. Reluctant to go anywhere, she changed her clothes into less flashy ones. She anticipated to go out and enjoy her day in solidarity. What more could a 22-year-old girl plan for her birthday? She, unhappily, went for her project work. After all, that’s what she was there for, to fight for girls’ rights.
With disappointment in her voice, she called her mother, “Mumma, I wanted to enjoy my day and roam around… I would be too tired to do anything in the evening!”, she exclaimed time and again.
“Come home and celebrate your birthday. Sweetie, you are growing now; be happy with what you have!”, her mother reassured her. She came back to her room in the evening and lashed her bag on the bed. She had completely lost hope and did not wish to talk to or see anyone.
Umang had no clue what was in store for her birthday. Suddenly, a waiter knocked on her door. Reluctant to talk, she gave him a grumpy look. He smiled at her instead and gave her an invitation to a social gathering – “Chai ki Dawat”. Following this, she got a call from one of her seniors who asked her to meet everyone in the lawn. Poor her, she neither had the strength nor willingness to go. She anyway dressed up once again with the best efforts and hurried towards the lawn, whacked. The decor downstairs was so luminous and radiant that she could not stop smiling. Why should she? Her colleagues had arranged a huge social gathering for her. They hung a banner, wishing her happy birthday and many people, especially young girls, had made greeting cards for her. She was overwhelmed. It was very distinctive from other parties yet it was special in its own way. There were Rajasthani traditional snacks, with a perfect ratio of sugar and spice. There was no disk jockey or USB playing songs but more like an acoustic night with a bonfire. The most special element which piqued her curiosity was tea, instead of beer. Different varieties of tea, from black to green, like kadak masala, fresh lemon mojito, jasmine tea, pomegranate tea, etc. Umang was so blown away by the varieties of tea because she hadn’t ever heard of them. In a place like Rajasthan where nights are extremely cold, tea is an ultimate delicacy. From elders to kids, everyone was having chai- the most beloved drink. In conversation with her seniors, she discovered the company Teafloor, from where those tea boxes and packs had been ordered. Ever since she never forgot the name. Chai replaced beer.
It’s true that she missed her old friends but she was also happy for being able to make new ones. There was chai and happiness all around her. The young girls gave her greeting cards thanking her for everything she had done for them. Her birthday became a social event where the organisation and its volunteers mixed up with the localities with chai. With beaming smiles and hysterics everywhere, they enjoyed the cultural dances and the festivities together. It seemed like the entire city was celebrating Umang’s birthday.