“Mum, I want one,” he said, pointing to the row of miniature Santas displayed in the store.
“But Babu, we are Hindus. It is okay if we don’t celebrate Christmas,” she bent down and told him, gently brushing his hair with her fingers. The five year old had no idea of who or what Hindus were. But he had finally found the old man who often appeared in his colouring books. He looked down for a moment and puffed up his cheeks. Had Santa seen those cheeks, he would have stolen them and never come back.
The little boy fixed his eyes on Santa again, and turned towards his mother.
That evening, he had the first Santa Claus of his life. A real Santa Claus. He carefully laid the little old man beside his pillow. When he sensed Santa was asleep, he whispered into her ears, “Mum, Santa told me he wants a Christmas tree.”
“Babu,“ she exclaimed.
“We will get everything for Santa. One by one, every year. Okay? Sleep now, else Santa will wake up.” She patted his back as he knocked off to sleep alongside.
~ 16 Years Later ~
“Babu, why don’t you take my calls? What have you been doing? Don’t you know how much it worries me?” she asked.
“I’ve been too busy Mum. What is it?”
“You know, I bought three stars lights today and hung them from your Christmas tree. We have twenty five star lights now,” she said, sounding as excited as a child.
It had taken a five year old to get her to realize that it was okay for Hindus to celebrate Christmas.
“And remember your little Santa Claus? I put him on the top of your Christmas tree. By the way, I did everything on my own. Your father didn’t bother to help. Babu, I wish you were here today.”
“I’ll be there within a month. Now don’t let your voice go all weak.”
“I’ll keep the decorations intact till you come home.”
That night, when everyone else in the house was asleep, she clutched the corner of her pillow and gazed at the Christmas tree patiently glowing into the darkness of the night.