“…So children… What is special about 25th December”? rang the sing-song voice of Sister Margret.
“… The birth of Jesus Christ”, chorused the class of Junior Kindergarten, section ‘A’.
“And what are we going to do on that day”? asked Sister Margret.
“…Dance”, squeaked little Gitu.
“Not just dance- so many other things as well. And who’s going to be our special guest’? Asked Sister Margret.
“SANTA…” shouted the class.
It was very exciting for almost all the children of Kindergarten. It was just I- who was not all that excited about “Christmas”. I could not see what was exciting about singing, dancing? I did neither of that. Nor was I excited about Santa or Jesus. For I knew neither.
“Now I would be coming around and taking down the names of all of you and what you are to be doing on the 25th”
The class rejoiced- and I was left thinking- What would I tell Sister Margret?
“Mittu. What would you like to do”? asked Sister Margret.
A dead end!
“Child, what do you do”? Repeated Sister Margret.
“I talk”, I blurted out.
‘I talk’. Even deep down, these words sounded stupid. But it was partially true. I have always heard people say- “Mittu talks”! I have even heard Sister Edwina telling my mother- “Your daughter- talks”.
Sister Margret did not reply. She was looking at me for a long time. Then she said-
“Now you are just what we need. You shall be delivering the ‘votes of thanks’. God bless you, child”… and she left me sitting there, wondering whatever ‘votes of thanks’ was!
That evening, I told my parents that I was suppose to ‘deliver’ ‘votes of thanks’.
“We shall ‘deliver’ it, then”, said my dad, smiling at me.
My mom spotted my disappointment.
“What’s bothering you, Mittu”? She asked me.
“I don’t want to do anything on Christmas. I don’t even know who Jesus or Santa is”, I voiced out my thoughts.
My mother looked at me, smiling, and she said- “Well Santa’s Maakkaan’s friend”!
“Who”? I asked her, confused.
“Maakkaan! The black Teddy Bear you have with big brown eyes and big red nose. Didn’t you know”? She asked, surprised at my surprise.
I shook my head. I was excited. I knew there was something about the black bear, when I bought it. So it was ‘Maakkaan’, after all!
“Maakkaan watches you- all the time. And when you do good things- like helping me out and not taking out daddy’s pens from his case, he sends you gifts and lets Santa know how you have been a very good girl”, finished my mom.
“Really”? I asked her, amazed! “What gifts will I get”?
“Oh sweets, Chocolates or something big, on days when you are extra good”, said my dad.
“WOW”! I just had to see it! I decided that day- I shall be as good as possible!
That night, I ate all my food. Even the spinach. I did not pester mom. I slept early even! I was all the goodness, I was capable of!
The next morning when my dad woke me up- “Get up! Maakkaan has sent you gifts”, he said.
I was wide awake in seconds. My dad pointed towards the balcony. And I saw it!
I saw a big polythene bag tied on the branch of the Neem tree! There were chocolates in it! I could not believe my eyes! It was a miracle!
That day, I planned to be even better. I did all my homework. I helped Vinu in doing his homework. And when Sister Edwina wanted someone to lend her an eraser- I volunteered! That evening, I even returned all the pens I had taken earlier form my dad’s office bag.
The next morning, there was a bigger bag of chocolates, tied on the Neem tree!
In the mean time, my dad taught me my ‘vote of thanks’. I was, for the first time, excited about going to school on the 25th of December! But I was a little unhappy. For the children, who were going to dance and sing- had new frocks made out for them! I- who was just going ‘talk’- got no new dress. My mom told me to ask ‘Maakkaan’ for a new dress.
“Try writing it down and placing it near him…” she said, smiling.
I wrote down what I needed in a piece of paper and placed it near Maakkaan. Nothing happened the next day. Nothing happened the day after, either. But on the third day, there was huge packet tied on the branch of the Neem tree! And when I opened the package I saw the most beautiful dress in it, just the way I had wanted it to be- Pink and fluffy!
That evening, I wrote down in a piece of paper- “I want a remote controlled car toy like the one Subho has”, and I placed the little note near Maakkaan.
The next day- I saw a huge package tied to the Neem tree. But it was empty. No- Not empty. It had the note I had written to Maakkaan, inside the package. I told my mom about it- and she said I should not misuse Maakkaan for anything I wanted. “Maakkaan might get angry”, she said.
That day- I finally revealed my secret to my friends. They had been pestering me to tell about who got me so many chocolates.
“Who Maakkaan? There’s no such thing as that. You are fooling us”, said Gitu.
“No”, I said. “I’ve seen it. It is true”.
“Then ask Maakkaan to get me chocolates, tomorrow”, said Kirti.
“He’s at my home- so he gets them just for me”, I said.
But none of them would believe me. Gitu even told Sister Edwina that I was telling lies to everyone! And no matter how much I tried explaining to Sister Edwina, she would not believe me either.
“Whoever teaches you such lies”! She scolded me.
“Maakkaan is like Santa Claus. They’re friends”, I protested. The entire class was laughing at me.
I cried all night. I did not have my food. School was no longer fun, as most of my friends thought I lied!
That evening, as I sat in my room, preparing my ‘vote of thanks’- I saw Maakkaan looking at me. Then I felt something. I wrote wish my on a piece of paper and placed it in front of Maakkaan.
The Christmas day arrived. It was more fun than I had thought it would be. Everyone looked wonderful!
And finally, Santa Claus came. He was so huge! And he spoke-
“… Just before I woke up today morning, I met up with an old friend. He had a request, for me that came to him from one among you”.
There were excited murmurs.
“… He told me, that one among you requested him, to get all of you gifts. But since he could not meet everyone else he sent over the gifts that he got for you to me and asked me to give it to you all…”
“My friend who got you gifts- is Maakkaan. The one who wanted him to get you all gifts is- Mittu”, he finished.
Everyone was clapping. Gitu even came to me and said sorry. Everyone got their gifts, except me! I went near Santa. He said, “Alas! You did not ask him for any gifts for yourself, did you”?
I had indeed forgotten to write that down in that little piece of paper! I was a little unhappy. But everyone appreciated me for my ‘votes of thanks. I even got a little pat from Sister Margret and a bag of chocolates from her.
We returned home. And as we neared our home, I saw a very huge package tied to the Neem tree. I ran towards it and took it to my room. And in it- was a brand new remote controlled toy car! A little note in it read, "To Mittu, who truly understood Christmas"...!
PS: 'Maakkaan' is very real... This story is-- well not entirely a fiction... :)
Image Courtesy- Google Images...