Layla is in her bed, half asleep. She hears the clinking of dishes in the kitchen downstairs. She suddenly remembers that today is Saturday and it is Inara’s birthday. Inara is Layla’s little sister and she turns three today.
To celebrate Inara’s birthday, Mamma and Dadda have invited friends and family to have lunch in their large garden. The garden has trees that provide shade during the hot sunny days and flowers and vegetables that attract birds, bees, and butterflies.
Layla had promised to wake up early to help with the preparations. She throws her comforter aside, jumps out of bed and rushes to wake Inara up so that they can brush their teeth and get ready to help set up for the party. Inara is still sleepy and does not want to wake up. Layla gives her sister a bear hug and smooshes her cheek with a kiss. “Happy Birthday,” she says, “and now you can go back to sleep.”
Layla goes downstairs to the kitchen and greets everyone. Nani, who is Mamma’s mom, is using a rolling pin to flatten the snow white dough. Ma, who is Dadda’s mom, is cutting strips of the flattened dough. Mai, Mamma’s sister is folding the pieces into little pockets and filling them with a mixture of spicy carrots, potatoes, and peas. Mamma takes the filled pastry, and with some sticky flour paste, she sticks the sides to make a triangular shape which she gently places onto a tray.
“What are you making?” asks Layla. “It smells so nice.”
“We are making Samosas,” says Nani as she continues to roll the dough.
“Samosas are like treats that are served to guests on special occasions like Eid, Khushiali, and for birthday parties. It an old family tradition,” says Ma.
“But it is Inara’s birthday, so we should have a cake,” says Layla.
“Yes, you are right, we will have a cake for Inara’s birthday,” says Mamma, “See over there on the table, it is ready.”
Layla goes to the table and sees a huge cake, decorated like the face of a dog with large brown ears drooping down from the sides. Inara loves dogs.
“Oooh,” says Layla, “It’s so beautiful.”
“Do you think Inara will like it?” Mamma asks.
“She will love it,” says Layla.
It is now mid-day, and the garden is filling up with guests. Plates, cups, forks, and napkins in different colors, blue, green and pink are on one long table. The food is set up on another table. There is a tray of chips, a big bowl of salad, buns, ketchup, mustard, and relish. On another table is a large jug of water, and small boxes of fruit juices for the children.
At one end of the garden, Dadda gets the barbeque ready for the hotdogs. At the other end, Nana, who is Mamma’s daddy, and Bapoo, who is Dadda’s daddy, are roasting mogo, cassava over a smoky charcoal barbeque.
Nani and Ma are in the kitchen to make sure there is enough food for the guests. Tee Fui, and Fuzz Fui, who are Dadda’s sisters, are busy entertaining the children. There is Zoe, Alysia, and Aidan, and Khalil and Ishan, and Amaar, and Adrian, Richard, and Alisa, and Zahra and Farah, and baby Graham and baby Sophie. Everyone is happy, talking, eating and having fun.
“Layla,” calls out Mamma, “please come here sweetheart, take this tray of Samosas and serve it to the guests,” she says.
Layla carries the silver tray of Samosas to the guests with Inara behind her with a bowl of brown tamarind sauce.
“Hi Imraan Chacha, would you like a Samosa?” asks Layla.
“Oh, yes, these smell so good,” he says as he takes one from the tray. He bites a small piece of the Samosa from the top and turns to Inara to pour a spoonful of the sauce into the rest of the Samosa. Soon other guests approach Layla, and in a short while, there are only three Samosas left on the tray.
“Inara, let’s go and get some more Samosas,” says Layla.
Mamma takes the three leftover Samosas from the tray and places them gently on a pile of freshly fried Samosas in another silver tray.
“Here you go,” says Mamma, “this is the last batch of Samosas.”
Soon, there are five Samosas left, and then four, then three, and then just two. Layla and Inara are keen for someone to take the last of the Samosas in the tray, but now nobody seems to want any.
Layla spots Aunty Logan playing with baby Graham.
“Aunty Logan, please have a Samosa,” says Layla.
“Oh, thank you, Layla, I would love to have one, they look so good,” says Aunty Logan.
“You can have them both,” says Layla.
“Thank you, but I will have only one to save some space for the other good food that I see on the table,” says Aunty Logan.
“Look, Aunty Logan, I have the sauce,” calls out Inara.
“That’s so cute, thank you, I will try it, I hope it is not too spicy,” says Aunty Logan.
Layla and Inara look around to offer the last Samosa to the guests. They see Nana.
“Nana, please take this last Samosa so we can go and play,” says Layla.
“Go inside and tell Nani to give you some more,” says Nana.
“But there are no more, we have served all of them, except this last one,” says Layla.
“If this is the last Samosa, I cannot eat it,” says Nana.
“Nana take it so we can play with our friends, they are waiting for us,” says Inara,
“No, no, no, I cannot take the last Samosa, go and serve it to a guest,” says Nana as he goes towards the gate to greet more guests.
At the end of the garden, Layla sees Bashir Uncle and walks towards him.
“Bashir Uncle, please have a Samosa,” she says. Bashir Uncle is Bapoo’s friend, and Layla likes him as he is always smiling and loves to tell stories.
“Is that the last Samosa?” he asks as he points to the tray.
Layla looks at Bashir Uncle not knowing how to answer his question, as there is only one Samosa in the tray.
“If it is the last Samosa, then it is a special Samosa,” he says as he kneels on the grass and puts his hands on Layla’s and Inara’s shoulders. “Let me explain to you why it is so special.”
“When I was as little as you, we lived in Nairobi, and every time we had guests at our home, my mom would serve Samosas. After everyone had completed their meal, there was always one Samosa left in the plate.”
“You see, everyone in our family and all the guests were so polite that they left the last Samosa in the plate for someone else to eat it. I always wondered who finally got to eat the last Samosa,” he says.
“Today you can eat the last Samosa,” Layla says.
“The last Samosa is a special Samosa, and so I cannot take it, but I still wonder who will finally eat it?” says Bashir Uncle.
“If it is so special, then why don’t you please take it?” pleads Layla.
“No, young ladies, I cannot eat the last Samosa. It would not be polite,” says Bashir Uncle as he gets up, “but I will go and eat some more of the mogo.”
“Come on Inara, let’s go inside. I have an idea what to do with the last Samosa,” says Layla.
Layla finds a small plate and places the Samosa on it and covers it with another small plate. From a drawer, she pulls out a notepad and a pencil and writes a note and puts it under the Samosa plate.
Later that night, after Mamma has tucked the girls to sleep, she goes down to the kitchen to put away the last of the dishes from the birthday party. She notices a covered plate with a note under it.
“Hmm, what’s in this I wonder,” she murmurs to herself.
She lifts the top plate and what does she find?
It is the last Samosa.
She pulls out the note from under the plate to read it.