The birthday bungle

“What a chaos!” Din Din exclaimed as he woke up to hustle bustle early Saturday morning.

“It’s Don’s birthday, don’t you remember,” reminded Derek, who seemed to have bathed and was annoyingly bright and awake. “Come on, let’s get to work. Mom and Grandmamma have been in the kitchen since sunrise.”

“What’s the big deal,” grumbled Dave from another bunk.

“Mom always arranges for a party for us and Don’s the youngest,” said Derek. “I’m off to collect cherries from the cherry bushes.”

Din Din hauled himself out of his rock shelf and after bathing himself at the back side of the cave, he sauntered into the kitchen. The aroma of chocolate filled his nostrils and made his tummy rumble noisily.

“Oh Din Din! I’m so glad you’re up. I need mint from your garden to put into my special chocolate layered cake,” Mrs. Dee said.

“And I require corn from Burrow, the rabbit’s vegetable garden,” called out Grandmamma.

“May I have some breakfast, please?” said Din Din drowsily.

“Sweetie, just grab an apple. You’ve woken up so late; I’ve already cleared the breakfast table. The party is this afternoon and there’s so much to do. Now, just run along and get the mint and corn,” said Mrs. Dee cheerily.

Munching on an apple, and muttering to himself, Din Din set off on his errands and returned two hours later. He left his Grandmamma to shell the corn cobs and went into the kitchen.

“Lovely! Now help me chop this mint finely so I can boil it and use its essence to flavour the layered cake,” Mrs. Dee said.

“Can’t I help Derek and Dave decorate the front of the cave?” asked Din Din edging his way out of the warm kitchen.

“No dear, I need you here,” his mother replied as she stirred a gooey chocolate mixture in a large bowl.

After the mint extract had been added, Din Din watched his mother pour the chocolate into moulds and then assemble the solid chocolates into an intricate five layers. “Five layers for Don’s fifth birthday! Now, let’s all get ready! Don’s friends must be arriving soon,” Mrs. Dee said hanging her apron on a hook and rushing out of the kitchen.

“Whew!” Din Din exclaimed as he sat on a rock stool in the kitchen. “I’m hungry!”

His eyes kept darting to the tall chocolate mint tower of cake standing before him. Din Din licked his lips. “If I just take one or two pieces of chocolate from the top layer, no one will notice,” he thought to himself.

Before he could control himself, he saw his huge, green paw slide towards the cake and pick up two pieces. He gobbled the pieces up and his mouth watered for more.

“Just two more,” he vowed and chomped down a couple. Satiated and licking the chocolate off his sticky fingers, he took a sigh of relief.

Once the clouds of bliss cleared, Din Din realized what he had done! He had eaten awhole layer of chocolate pieces off the cake. Don’s cake was now only four layers tall.

Outside he could hear Don’s friends arriving.

“Din Din, get the cake please. We’ll cut the cake first and after you all are fed, you can play all the games we have planned,” Din Din heard Mrs. Dee welcoming the guests.

Din Din was panicking. The cake! What was he to do? How would he explain the missing layer? His mother had worked so hard on the cake. Should he tell his mother what he had done? Din Din winced at the scolding he would have to face.

Just then, Din Din remembered a few boxes of chocolate which his mother kept stored away in an icebox. The icebox was actually a carton filled with snow which had been brought down from the mountains. Mrs. Dee used it to store the chocolates she prepared for sale.

Din Din hastily threw open the carton. Inside lined with hay and melting ice were two boxes of chocolates. He quickly opened one box and gasped in relief when he saw that they were also round shaped, just like the ones on Don’s birthday cake.

He arranged a layer of these chocolates atop the cake. He stood back to examine his work. It looked just like his mom’s five-layered cake. He grabbed the cake stand on which the cake stood and carried it outside. Amidst clapping and cheers and the happy birthday song, Don cut the cake and his friends enjoyed the pieces of chocolate Mr. Dee served them with corn chips, candied cherries and bananas dipped in chocolate sauce.

Once the food had been devoured, Don’s friends began playing passing the parcel outside the cave while Mrs. Dee and Grandmamma cleared the leftover food. Din Din had been holding his breath throughout the party. “I might just escape getting caught,” he wished fervently.

Just then he heard Grandmamma say, “Let me taste the chocolate too,” and helped herself to a lone piece. As she bit into it she asked, “Dee, I thought you were using mint chocolate. This one’s plain.”

“No Ma! It’s mint!” Mrs. Dee said.

Din Din’s heart skipped a beat. Just then Don barreled into the kitchen, “Mom! My friends are fighting over the ball.”

Mrs. Dee scampered out of the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron.

Din Din was growing red with shame. “Grandmamma,” Din Din said after a prolonged silence. “I made a mistake!” And he blurted out the whole story.

Grandmamma peered at him sternly, “So, are you going to tell your mother?” she asked pointedly.

“Do I have to? No one knows. No one will know?” Din Din pleaded.

“If your conscience allows you,” was all Grandmamma answered.

That night, Din Din tossed and turned until daybreak.

It was Sunday and everyone was sleeping late. He went to his mother’s bed and shook her awake.

Outside the cave, the mother and son watched the sun rise. “I’m sorry Ma! I was greedy and made a mistake. I hid the truth from you. Please, forgive me,” Din Din said with his head lowered as he bared his heart to his mother.

“Thank you for telling me the truth, my dear!” Mrs. Dee smiled. “No matter how hard it is, one must confess. You didn’t have to but you told me and I appreciate that.”

And Din Din felt as if a load had been lifted off his shoulders.

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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