"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




Chintu was the most excited kid in the house, he felt like the king of the world, and he had every right to feel that way. It was his fifth birthday. Though it was only his fifth, he was already on seventh heaven. In Chintu's community, fifth birthdays were the most special and accompanied by maximum pomp and merriment. Every parent strived to make their wards' fifth birthday so special, like it was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

Chintu's parents were no exception. They had decided to splurge. All guests would be treated to loads of kheema - Chintu's favourite - and, hence, the most tender lambs were purchased from the market. Five lambs in all.
 
Seeing the decorations, the music, and the people, Chintu could not control his excitement and pranced and frolicked around like a newly born lamb. In the backyard, the five lambs lay motionless, with legs tied and mouths gagged, to prevent them running and messing around.
 
Chintu's cake was being prepared, decorated with red and yellow edible glitter. Five candles were placed. A knife wrapped in glitter paper was kept alongside. Out back, the butcher performed his ablutions. Lambs were smeared with vermilion and turmeric powder. A whetted knife lay alongside him.
 
The cake was placed on the table; the lambs were raised on a pedestal.
 
Chintu stood by the cake, trying to hide his excitement and appear solemn. Though it was a special day for him, his parents expected him to be mature. The butcher stood by the pedestal, smiling, trying to hide his solemnity and appear excited. Though it was his mundane daily job, the occasion demanded excitement. 
 
The candles were lit. Chintu looked around at the peering faces before taking a deep breath. The butcher picked up his knife. A gentle nonchalant breeze blew outside. The angels waited to shower their blessings.
 
Five candles to be puffed out. Five lives to be snuffed out.

Death, to celebrate birth!


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