Fiction: The Unusual Party

Ajanta Paul
Bunty gazed at the raindrops spattering against his window sill. Fat, round, glistening drops, they burst against his pane with a violence that surprised him.

No school for the past three months, Bunty missed the games and fights during recess, the shared lunch boxes and the pranks played in class. Really, it was so annoying to be thus cooped up within the house with little to occupy oneself.

It's true you could get up a little late, and Mom who was working from home made her special dishes now and then. But then, Minty, his elder sister, too was always around to spoil whatever little fun he thought of having.

Why, only the other day she took away his favourite toy saying he had not completed his sums in time. He turned away from the window with a little sigh and sat on his small, wooden rocking chair looking at his playthings scattered around the nursery.

In these lockdown times Bunty spent hours with his battery operated remote controlled cars, kids' educational laptop, his smart train and Pokobot. As he tinkered around with his intelligent gadgets Bunty felt himself receding deep into the corridors of a closed in world where he was alone with his mechanical memories.

Something tingled Bunty's nostrils. It was the smell of rain. Ah, how nice it felt, filled with the fresh scent of beautiful lands and skies.  It soothed him so that he fell asleep.

Bunty dreamt he was out playing in the rain. The monsoon moulds had become pretty, colourful toadstools around him. The flying termites' wings had become sheer and gauzy and the beetles looked smart and sleek.

Soon Bunty was launching lovely, large paper boats on the swirling puddles in his garden. O, what a pleasure it was! Why hadn't he done this kind of thing earlier?

After launching several boats, all white and crisp like huge rice wafers Bunty climbed into one and soon he was off on a voyage of his own. The little raft turned this way and that, wobbled in shallow currents and shot ahead with supreme confidence in deeper waters.

Bunty felt the wind in his hair as a sense of freedom took over his heart. Now, where was he headed? There was no knowing but strangely, he didn't feel in the least scared.

Bunty drew in the fresh air and enjoyed the morning sunshine on his back as he passed villages and woods along the way. Except during the rare school excursion or family picnic he hardly got to see these sights.

After a while the river began to unfurl more rapidly and Bunty’s boat glided swiftly into some kind of a hollow into which it was sucked and held.

Now Bunty felt a twinge of alarm. He looked around him cautiously. He could make out certain sounds. A subdued stream of noises came to his ears. Mechanical hoots, electronic beeps and other chained voices in loops broke the sullen silence around him. What on earth are these noises, Bunty wondered.

Bunty ventured a little way to his right. He found himself in a space where assorted robots in chef's caps and overalls were busy in what looked like an endless open air kitchen. The atmosphere here was totally different - it was festive and cheerful.

The chefs were plucking soft, fluffy clouds from the sky and turning them into vanilla sundaes and whipped cream. They were scooping up the sunrise and making lemon honey from it. Bunty licked his lips.

The monsoon showers were being collected into tall, frothing glasses of cool shakes and merry mocktails. The fresh green leaves of trees and herbs went into the making of lime drops, mint puddings and basil jelly.

While Bunty stood taking in the amazing scene one of the chefs turned to him saying, "This feast is for you and your friends." Bunty was surprised to find that the speaker was Bestbot, one of the robots he played with at home every day. With that Bestbot, turned away to attend to the chocolate mud pie cake he was mixing.

Another chef joined them. Why, he was none other than his very own Pokobot! Bunty broke into a broad smile at this unexpected meeting. "H...how nice," he stuttered.

Pokobot gave him a warm smile in return. "You see, there's more to life than getting involved in the fantasies of your favourite  cartoon characters or wizardry on gizmos, though these, too, are important, I guess," shared Pokobot with a little grin.

"Did you hear our groans in the hollow? Pokobot asked Bunty. "We too get tired of the tasks set us, sometimes," he said a little sadly.

"Oh, so those trapped voices belonged to you all?" asked a surprised Bunty.

Pokobot nodded.

Bestbot, who was done with the cake mixing informed Bunty cheerfully, "Today we want you to have a party and it's not going to be an ordinary one."

True to his words the place soon filled up with Bunty's friends. There were Rishav, Varun, Joy and Khurshed from school, among a host of others. Then there were Peter and Rani from amongst his neighbourhood companions. Durga, their household help's daughter completed the present circle of his friends. Bunty was really happy to meet them after ages.

Soon amidst excited chatter the children were led to a plateau like table which was laden with cloud ice-creams, sunshine syrups, rainbow candies, twilight truffles, moonlight muffins, frost gelatos, fresh spring shakes and dark brown hillocks of chocolate among other delights.

The head chef, Yumwiz in a flowing apron and a special cap looked more like a wizard than a cook. He seemed kind and wise. He cleared his throat and began, "Now children, you hardly get to spend time outdoors. But what is childhood without the joys of nature? So we thought if you cannot go out to nature we shall bring it in to you. Now isn't that a good idea?" he beamed at the children.

Bunty and his friends sang out in unison, "Of course! What could be better than that!"

"And the best thing about Nature is that it's free. You don't need to spend anything to touch, feel and taste it," Yumwiz reminded them.

"But you have got to do your part and look after it. If you remember to take care of nature it will also take care of you. Now, isn't that a wonderful arrangement?" Yumwiz asked the children.

The children nodded thoughtfully.

Yumwiz went on, "Children need to taste nature to grow up good and strong. So here you are with many natural treats before you. Please help yourselves to them, my dear friends."
          
Amidst happy oohs and aahs the friends began to taste the flavours of nature. Some dug into the clay fudge while others tried the sunset blush candy-floss or the nectar nougat, sprinkling stardust on them while yet others eagerly reached out for the snowflake soufflés. O what a wonderful spread!


Bunty was about to help himself to a horizon heart cake when a loud sound woke him up. Rubbing his eyes he realized it was a peal of thunder. Mom entered his room saying, "Close the windows, Bunty. Can't you hear the thunder?"

Bio: Dr. Ajanta Paul is an academician, administrator, critic, poet and author, currently Principal & Professor of English at Women’s Christian College, Kolkata, India. She has published several books of criticism and imaginative literature including The Elixir Maker and Other Stories ( Authorspress, 2019).
Dr. Paul has been featured in print magazines and online journals including Youth Times, The Telegraph Colour Magazine, The Statesman, The Bengal Post, Setu Bilingual Journal, Teesta Review: A Journal of Poetry, Millennium Post and Magic Diary Initiative.

3 comments :

  1. This is a lovely story Ajanta di! Loved reading it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much, Anasuya! Your words mean a lot to me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much, Anasuya! Your words mean a lot to me.

    ReplyDelete

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