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A Christmas Gift
( Content Curator at The Floating Thoughts© )
It was the month of December. A month when the cold valiantly establishes its rule, a month when sleepy eyes prepare to hibernate, a month when every tree save the evergreens are robbed off their garments. It also marks the onset of a festival, the birth of Messiah and ever since the world has been celebrating this merry occasion. Christmas was in four days’ time, a celebration so mesmerising, and every entity was doused in the fervour.
The spirit of the festival was humbly evident from Mylliem, a little village nestled between mountains in the heart of Meghalaya not far from the capital town of Shillong. Joyous children, their cheeks a shade of blush-red and sparkling eyes diligently cleaned the Church, humming a happy tune. Their faces radiated an ethereal ecstasy, momentarily masking the misery each one was prey to. There was cheerfulness in the atmosphere, the season of happiness. With the cleaning done, Father Keenan, an elderly pious man, announced the fir tree decoration ceremony; a loud echo of cheer followed. Humming a carol which the children followed, he assisted the curious ones with the meagre decoration items. Little polychrome plastic stars, sparkling bells and fleecy puffs of cotton balls covered the conifer embellishing it with beauty. Curious eyes gazed as each decoration found its place on the tree. After placing the idol of an angel at the tip of the tree, Father Keenan carefully twined colourful fairy lights around it. When lit it was puzzling to determine what ushered in a sudden brightness-the illuminated bulbs or the sparkle in the eyes of the enthralled children!
With all the chores complete, the children gradually dispersed save three little ones. Sanbor, a twelve year old boy with a round face, docile eyes and fluffy brown hair, Ebhalin, his seven year old sister with a secluded look about herself and Banshai, a three year old toddler always glued to his sister. They were to accompany Father Keenan whose hovel was beside their shabby one. The Father had an outlandish affection towards them. He had known their family very well, the children and their invalid father, and was a witness to the misery and unpleasantness intoxicating their lives. They had no bygone memories to cherish but he was optimistic and believed.
Faith as small as a mustard seed can evict mountains and plunge them into the ocean, he remembered and prayed. There were good tidings in the offing, a adoption that was to be.
Their father, a paralytic, eagerly awaited their return smiling at the star that Ebhalin had glued upon their door, one she had diligently sketched. He regretted his failure and the brunt his children had to bear. Sanbor and Ebhalin had mastered the appalling truth of ignoring their childhood and toiled hard with petty chores. Stomachs were always unfilled and sleep was never ample. Their fragile bodies had mastered the art of patiently accepting the yoke of malevolence. No day differed from the other. Yet after a petty dinner, the fervent children would narrate their innocent adventures to their Pa and then he would tell them stories. Today he described Christmas tales-birth of Christ, the Magi, three wise men who brought gifts for infant Jesus while angels sang in heaven. They listened with awe and were soon lulled into so peaceful a slumber dreaming about Christmas.
The following day, Father Keenan received a letter that he had been waiting for days. The Irish couple, who wished to adopt children from the village, were coming the next day. It was a hysteric moment for the Father. He had suggested the names of Sanbor and his siblings and, now, he knew the haze of melancholy and bereavement would soon be wiped off from their faces. Indeed the best Christmas gift, he reckoned. Hurrying, he went to their father with the news. A flicker of happiness seeped through him when he foresaw the joy that his children would blessed with; but his happiness soon turned into sorrow imagining the separation.
His was the plight of a helpless father. He did not, but, let his serene selfishness deter the goodness that awaited his children and confining his tears inside his broken heart he accepted the mandate. Later that day he explained to the children their nigh future, blissful days, sufficient to eat and plentiful sleep. They stood bewildered, it was perplexity rather than happiness. They disapproved and Banshai, too small to comprehend anything only stared at everyone. Their father tried hard to cajole them, but in vain.
Much after a heated argument his request moulded into a command and Ebhalin had to accept the bitter sweetness. But Sanbor would not give in and rushed out to Father Keenan. He cried his heart out for his father meant the world to him. He cared little about not much to eat, he did not mind sweating and toiling, he did not deplore not sleeping enough as long as it was under the roof of his hut. Father Keenan, with his usual soothing ways elucidated to him what the Lord once said. Men who follow Gods commandments are His true father, mother, brother and sister. He was too young to appreciate and disagreeing he wiped his tears, swallowed hard and left with his stubborn self.
The Irish couple arrived the next afternoon. Bizarre was their greeting; puzzled onlookers and enthralled children ran about as the motor car chugged through the muddy road. After a brief meeting with Father Keenan and the children’s father and the legal procedure they were ready to depart with Ebhalin and Banshai. Ebhalin forced herself a smile through her tears as she gazed at everyone for the last time. They left and Sanbor could not help staring at the car until it disappeared out of his sight and merged with the horizon.
Two days hence life was no longer the same. There were no adventures, no happy gatherings before bedtime, and no stories to drown oneself into. It was Christmas day and he sat at the porch of his hut gazing at the heavenly bodies, holding onto the star that Ebhalin had sketched. He knew that the Magi had come for his sister and brother but little did he know that he had exalted himself to the heights of the Magi for it is transcendental to give than to receive.
“So humble yourself under the mighty power of God, and in his good time He will honour you” – 1 Peter, 5:6.
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