Joined: 15 April 2013
I was never sure this would happen. There was no plan to write this. It is just that I woke up this morning, there was an infectious aura of Christmas around and I truly felt the sheerness of the season and the festival.
So continuing the tradition of Xmas treats from last year (read The Chocolatier's choice), here is something I wrote for this year.
The Christmas Eve
Beautiful snowflakes trickled down his puffy red nose, snow stuck to the floor beneath his boots and carols swung dreamily as he looked around the meadow. It was all snow, dusty white, as if a snow fairy had cloaked it with her snowy wings. The pines were dark green underneath icy flakes, adorned with bright lamps and golden lights. Norway was drunk in the spirits of Xmas.
His pudgy little boots left fine trail of footprints as he trotted to his house, a huge paper bag hugged to his chest and half eaten sugar cookie balanced in one hand. He wasn't the usual Norwegian beauty, the little boy. With dark brown hair, streaks of auburn in the noon sun and darker burnt brown at night; he was not as fair as his friends. But his nose was always red under the effect of his ever present cold in the ever freezing Norway. Possibly his immunity wasn't made for countries of colder climes.
"And here I have the decorations"
He beamed up at his mother who had caught up with him. She was a petite woman with dark auburn hair, eyes bluish unlike his dark brown. She had stayed back at a kiosk in the market to pick up stars and tassels for their tree. Together they made their way home and Geet smiled looking upwards into the Christmas Eve sky. She snaked an arm around her son and held him closer to her thigh as they walked, her eyes fixed on the dark wine sky and the stars like sugar cookies that twinkled on it. The moon was yellow and full, hanging like another of her child's candies. All that would complete the picture was a Santa on his open sleigh.
It was the eve of Christmas or the night of twenty-forth of December when Santa came to town. Christ was put in his manger and Mary would celebrate the arrival of her baby boy, while baby boys and girls all around the world would count on finger tips how good or naughty they had been throughout the year for Santa to come and drop gifts down their chimneys. If children had been good, then Santa would drop gifts that his elves had prepared year round in their workshop, if they had been naughty then he would leave them coals. Geet's son had been a good boy throughout the year, or so he said. Geet would disagree if she had anything to say in the matter.
Upturning a bag of flour on Mrs. Graham while she stood underneath their kitchen window or emptying the entire house of coins so that his piggy bank would rattle couldn't be considered good behavior after all. Making your mother run around three neighborhood houses to feed you or eating the entire tub of ice-cream in peak of cold and cough couldn't be considered good either. But Geet didn't care. She would stand and tell the Santa that her son had been the best through the year, he would get gifts. Chuckling at his efforts to hang tassels on the blade of pine she picked him up and cheered when he hung all the tassels and finally put the star up on the peak of their little Christmas tree. It shone of red and golden light, as did their home with orange-gold haze. The window was closed and the room warm enough from the fire in the hearth. Delicious aromas of food and plum cake rose from her kitchen and the cute little growling of her son's stomach told her that it was time for dinner. So they sat and said their prayers, ate together and she sang him Carols.
"Up we go, its bed time now"
"No I sit ere"
Geet scooted down beside her son and put a hand on his shoulder
"If you sit here then Santa wouldn't come, would he now? He would think you have been a naughty child"
"So here, come now. We will hang your stocking for him to put your gift in"
He asked, unwrapping the red and white striped sugar candy.
"Why are you unwrapping it?"
"Santa wouldn't know"
He said shaking his head and the auburn streaks shone in his brown mop. She chuckled, admiring him peeling the plastic wrap of the candy as he had recently learnt. Many a candies had been broken and many a wrappers torn at his clumsy, non skilled babyness before but then he had learnt to unwrap it neatly so that the sweet and slick candy came out in one piece. No surprises there if he thought Santa were as clumsy and unskilled at opening candies. Geet lifted her nine year old son again and he hung the candy up on the tree with a flourish.
"Off we go now! Yeaaa"
She squealed pushing him up to the attic which was his secret playroom and bed.
Changed in his bed clothes, under the star and moon pictures on his yellow duvet, she tucked a Santa cap over his head and pulled it down to his ears to keep away cold. The windows to his attic would always remain sealed until recently when he had grown in height and went opening them along. Another naughtiness, Geet ticked in her mind. But for all it was worth, he was a good child. Protecting his mother.
"Rudolph the red nosed reindeer?"
She asked settling beside him. He shook his head. He had heard the story far too many times and even children who loved some characters had the limit of getting bored of them. He had heard that there was a reindeer named Rudolph whose nose was red and shiny like his own. Geet had told him so many times that it was because of his red nose that Santa had made him draw his sleigh. His friends would call him names, tease his red nose and bully him. But then one fine day, in the midst of a storm on Christmas Eve, Santa had landed to Rudolph for help. His own eight reindeers couldn't draw his sleigh in dark and storm and so he had taken Rudolph with his red shiny nose to lead the pack. Since then he had been the hero of his clan. The little boy could relate to the story any day, given his own exotic looks in school and play. And he thought one day he would also be the hero. His father was, after all.
"Tell me about daddy"
He budged his mother. She drew in a breath and thought for a moment. One more year, then he would be ten. This might not be a bad time to tell him. And the occasion was right too. So she smiled and put her stockinged feet up and under his duvet, lying back with him on the huge pillow, she adjusted her red and green dress. Geet looked at the breezy sky outside, swirling shapes of snowflakes that were harbingers of Christmas and Santa. Then she looked down at her son and began.
"Once upon a time, far away in the glaciers of North Pole, there was a workshop of elves..."
I had been ten years old, a little thing with pudgy hands and tripping feet. The North Pole was alive all year round with Santa's elves, as the workshop made toys for children around the world. There was no rest but still so much fun. It was cold and we all ate and drank huddled together by the fire after our day's work, sang songs and carols while working and danced about during fire festivals. Santa Claus, as everyone calls him was known by the name of Nicholas Claus to us. He was an old man, not all the white beard and moustache as everyone says. He did have a paunch though. Every year he would go to Christmas Eve on his sleigh and we would celebrate for the night until the day next when he would come back after a short vacation with his wife.
This time, he came back but with his wife and ten year old son. They say Santa's family was blessed to produce Santas. Only that they were not told of their powers and gifts until they came of age. At ten years old, every little Santa was granted his real home and power. North Pole.
I was hammering a hand into the doll whose lips I had painted with pink powder and turpentine and glanced up to see another figure, tall and angry at me. I had made a small igloo from snow for my doll, and put a nice red flag over its roof. His big shadow fell on my igloo and I got a little scared. I didn't know if he was angry at me or anyone else or everyone at general. But he looked red. His nose was red and puffed, he sneezed twice and when I couldn't stop my laughter at the way his whole fair face went red, he clucked and kicked the igloo. My house broke and without preamble I started to wail. He kicked and stepped on my now sodden igloo again and I pushed his legs, standing up and shoving his chest, which was all I could reach.
"I hate you"
I told him wiping my eyes with the back of my hand
"I hate you too"
He glowered at me and I ran away with the doll under my arm.
That was the first time we had a row. It would have happened again had I been brave enough to face him. But the little coward I was, I didn't go in a radius of five hundred meters around him. Months passed and he was as angry as he had been the first day Mr. Claus brought him home. He never smiled, sulked by the deep side of the glacier looking towards the south. I didn't exactly know where he looked for it was all ocean and unending water in the distance. There was a world across but I had never known it, and didn't quite understand the mourning in his stiff angry posture for that world. After all, our North Pole was the prettiest, glinting sun and clear skies half a year and dark horizon the other half. Sun rose just before the March equinox and set after September equinox. There were so many shades to our sky in that span of six months that words would never suffice to describe the same. This was that time, of sunrisen sky.
How could he not love this place?
And the people!
Agreed, we were way shorter than he was growing to be; mostly elfin heighted. He, on the other hand had decided to grow several inches in just that span of seven months after Christmas. This, I could pin-point by his ability to pluck down ice splinters from the roof of our workshop cave. When he had come down to the workshop the first time, he had jumped higher and higher but couldn't reach the hanging spikes of frozen ice hanging from the ceiling. Now, he plucked them without effort. Soon, I wondered, he would not even be able to walk into the elfin cave without ducking his head like his father had to.
"What are you doing here?"
He turned suddenly at me with his growling expression and I stared in horror for a second. Then I turned tail and started to run back towards the workshop.
He said from behind me and I stopped, looking down into fleece of snow.
"Come back here"
He asked and I went back grudgingly to stand at the same spot that I had stood in while I had observed him gazing into the ocean. A fishing rod was buried by his side and little penguins dived into the current on a far off glacier beyond him. They were fat little bodies of white and black, sweet in looks but deadly to encounter; amazing swimmers though.
"Help me fishing?"
He asked shyly
I declared haughtily with my nose in the air.
If this was the time to avenge my broken igloo, then I would squeeze every drop of it. To my surprise he only stood up and walked towards me, burying his hands snugly into his jeans pockets and looking shy everywhere but me. He kicked at a ball of snow as if thinking and then turned his face to me. This time it was red under chagrin, or so I thought.
He said smiling shyly and I folded my hands on my chest.
"Make my igloo again"
He looked flustered at first; his brows drew together in a deep frown above his nose. Then he plopped on the very spot and started making a mound which I discovered later was his version of an igloo.' I stifled a smile at his idea of an igloo and wondered how any Elf would live inside it, let alone Eskimos. But I eventually forgave him.
"Do you have anything else to do here?"
He asked me as we sat by the shore waiting for our bait to be caught by a fish.
I gestured enthusiastically, rolling a little snowball in my palm.
He made a face and I discovered he looked so good otherwise. Fair skin, brown eyes, red nose because he was constantly cold. But I didn't like him so much any way so I reminded how he had looked down upon our toy making.
"Mr. Claus distributes these toys to children everywhere, you know!"
"And I have to be him when I grow up"
"And live here"
He gestured despondently, looking around at the whites and blues.
"Don't you like this? I mean it's so good"
He said frankly.
Was all I could say and he squealed. I looked at where he was looking and caught hold of the fishing rod at once. All of a sudden it weighed very heavy and he scooted behind me to hold the rod tighter. With a whoosh of water we pulled and the fish jumped in air, swishing from side to side. He laughed in delight and I laughed too. We hi-fived each other and did a little hoopla dance of our own at the first catch.
He stopped, making a humorous puffing sound from his mouth
"Oh good, I am Maan"
And so we made friends. I observed over the next couple of years that he had started to be happy in his surroundings, helping with the toys, preparing the reindeers for their journey before Christmas, sitting and helping his father Mr. Claus with the never ending rolls of list of children and spending time with me. We would dance with the elves; he would play the fiddle sometimes. He played well, in fact really well. During the summer months when the sun was up, we would go trekking up above the mountains and ridges. The snow would be light underneath our feet and air warm to breathe.
During dark winter months his spirits would wane, I observed. He would remain aloof and huddle in his little home before the fire. In spite of Mrs. Claus's continuous ranting to go out and play or help in the workshop, he would curl up with a book and not come out. So now I was smart enough to understand his problem; he was Santa in the making, liked to work with elves, make toys and rear cattle along with his daddy but didn't like winters. He didn't like the dark, when sun was continuously a thin line of light below the horizon.
So every year I saw the most of him during summers as we trotted about the arctic hills and ocean together, observed polar bears, walruses, seals, squirrels and sometimes even killer whales. And then I hardly saw him during winters. Until that one year when everything changed.
I was sixteen and it was one of the coldest winters of all time in Arctic Circle that year. The sun wasn't even lingering below the horizon this time, peeking and booing every now and then; leaving the North Pole in bone chilling cold. It was one such day and I had set out to collect glacier pieces from the fresh water lake below. There was no water to drink and the only source was down below the hill. I walked in harsh winds and splintering ice flakes with two buckets and a small torch in hand. Long and long I walked until at last I saw the little red and white board that marked the lake.
At my own leisure I scooped pieces of ice with my shovel, singing softly to myself even though the winds were much louder. With a fierce grasp I was snatched back and turned to Maan who pulled me and kissed my mouth. I poked the shovel into his stomach and he doubled over, releasing me.
"Ahh, I'm sorry"
I uttered going closer to him
"What the hell Geet"
He panted, clutching his tummy and squinting his eyes in the hazy air.
"I...I...What were you doing?"
I asked suddenly turning offensive
"What am I doing? What am I doing? What are you doing, you fool, committing suicide in this weather!"
"I just came to fetch ice"
"Yes sure, in this"
He opened his arms so that a chunk of ice flakes settled over his palm creating a layer in no time
"In this weather?"
He reiterated and I had the nerve to look chagrined.
"What would I do? There was no water"
"You. Could. Have. Told. Me"
He was losing it again, I saw and gulped.
"Yes sure! And what would you do? Bury yourself deeper into that plush love seat by the fire and pick up another book from your sweet little shelf"
"No damn girl! I would come to you"
He said and I belatedly realized the ticking of pulse at an arrhythmic pace on the inside of my wrist. I was too young for coronary arrest, I confirmed. So it had to be...Oh no! It was him. My lips suddenly felt dry as his angry look, of which I was accustomed to, transformed smoothly into something else. Something like the crackling caramel over a sweet piece of strawberry, something like the dark horizon when the sun was just below it; as it was now in the sky. Passion; that could have been the word.
He must have seen a similar look in my eyes as well for he stepped closer and bent his head to take my mouth into his. I felt a new life electrocute itself inside me, warming the confines of my chest and mouth and heart and stomach. I was totally at his mercy as he hauled me up to him and kissed deeply; more deeply if that was possible. It was our first kiss and in his most hated half of the year. But then, he no longer hated it since he could sneak me to a secluded dark spot at any time of the day and kiss me, lie with me, love me.
Over time he loved me more and I learnt to love him too. Santa Claus continued distributing Christmas presents all over the world and Maan, under his father, continued to learn the knitty gritties of the power that would fall in his hands eventually. It was late after ten years of loving each other that he finally asked me to marry him and create another Santa with him. I fought with him over creating a Santa only and why not an elf! He laughed and kissed my nose, murmuring in my ear that if I was game for it then he didn't mind creating an entire workforce of beautiful little auburn haired elves. And again I fought with him because he called me little!' But we were married and life moved on as it should have until his father, the senior Mr. Claus died of old age. He was the new Santa and the keeper of North Pole. His responsibilities increased and I became pregnant.
Then it was time for me to go because the infant Claus couldn't know of his heritage until coming of age. I didn't cry until after I parted from him, bidding a cheerful good-bye to hold the deluge of pain in his eyes at bay. I knew he never wanted any of this, didn't want to exile his child the way he had been. I knew he didn't want to part from me and live ten years of his life without me and then suddenly bring his child to the unknown world and tell him that it was his home. But there was little other choice and I had to go. On my way to Norway, as I wrote in my diary of my husband, my unborn child and their heritage, I also wrote how every hero sacrificed a part of himself to become a hero. How Maan did it and how our child would have to do it.
The silver lining on my clouds of separation with Maan was this baby, this little son I was blessed with three months later. He was a mix of his father and I in looks. And as I began to know him for the person he was, my bosom swelled with pride and love at his attitude and positivity. Every Christmas when he would be asleep, Maan would come down to our house and lay down his gifts. Then he would spend the night with me, the only night of vacation he got from his duties year round. The first time he came home, when our son was only five months old, Maan wept in my arms. The man who was meant to smile and say Ho! Ho! Ho!' to children around the world wept to take his on child in his arms. That first time was hard enough, then he planned his time meticulously with us. Watching his sleeping son while talking to me in hushed whispers about everything that happened back home, eating my home cooked Christmas feast and sipping on some real good wine split the early night hours. And then he would sigh and put out his hand to me. I would take it and decide to go slow with it but the moment he peeled my dress off me and I his dark belt and red breeches, we would be all sheets and gasps and love and sighs. In nine years, nine nights of meeting and making love. Sometimes at leisure or at the crack of dawn when his head would have been cushioned in my bosom and I would stroke his dark brown hair while he slept; I wondered if legends too were destined to be happy...
"...And so the baby little Santa would grow up soon and his daddy would come and take him away to their home"
Geet smiled, ruffling her son's dark brown hair with auburn streaks that were her legacy. He stared up at her wide eyed and opened his mouth. Then he closed it again thinking the better of it.
"Go on, tell me"
"Is daddy really Santa? As in real? He come today?"
She told him kissing his head and nuzzling the baby shampoo smell.
"I want to meet him"
He got up
"No. Not this year. Next year we will go with him"
"No baby boy, I will ask him to write you a letter. If you meet him now you would never be able to go to his home in North Pole from where mama came"
She felt the weight of her argument dawn on him and sighed with relief when he sagged back in bed. He was still not completely relaxed, jittery with excitement and nervousness. Geet felt a little cruel to ask him not to meet his dad just yet but she knew Maan wouldn't be able to leave once he met his son. And it was only a year more. She needed to be strong for both their sakes.
"Ask him to write me a long letter"
Geet choked putting her son to bed and thought if it was the right decision to tell him just yet. But then he closed his eyes and the fatigue took over as he was sucked into the vortex of sleep like a phoenix. He babbled in sleep, smiling incoherently.
"Santa my daddy...he coming..."
Geet smiled. This was the right decision.
Later that night, as the Christmas Eve was culminating around the world, Santa's last stop was her house. In the kitchen chair where she sat in her best evening dress with a bottle of wine and assorted pastries, Geet heard the faint echo of his sleigh and before she could run down the stairs into the den, he had materialized from the chimney. His back was turned to her as he bent to examine the decorations of the tree. In his red coat and breeches, a Santa cap and belt Maan looked a bit funny. What with all those muscles underneath. He was the first Santa in his family probably without a paunch, Geet mused. She exhaled and the air from her body that touched him made Maan aware of her. He turned with a heart splitting smile and she ran into his arms. He hauled her up and turned around in circles with her giggling in hushed tones, clutching his shoulders.
"He is asleep?"
Maan asked, the huge grin melting back into a melancholic tilt of his lips.
"Yes. I told him. Everything"
She said, licking her lips which suddenly felt dry. Maan stiffened, his face going white in the golden glow of the den.
"You...told him...about me?"
"What did he say? He must be terribly angry, no?"
"He thinks you are a hero"
She curled her arms around his neck to establish the much needed connection and he sagged with solace.
"Thank god! Oh thank god"
He buried his head into the crook of her neck, absorbing the warmth and the smell of his son from his wife.
"Just one more year, isn't it"
She asked stroking the back of his head. Thick dark hair curled at the nape of his neck, very inviting to bury her fingers in. He had removed his wig and the cap had fallen.
"Only one more year, yes. Then I would take you two home"
Maan kissed her deeply and pulled her back into his chest for a hug.
"Oh one more thing"
Geet muffled in his chest
"Your son wants you to write him a letter"
She said tightening her arms around him
"A long letter"
So Maan sat down to write a letter after he had royally ravished his wife in bed and made love to her so many times and with such intensity that both their bodies had come to the verge of weeping with pleasure. As Geet slept wrapped in his smell and the duvet, he picked up a pen and started writing.
So there it is, my little Christmas treat to all my lovely readers. Hope you'll enjoyed and please do tell me how you'll liked it.
Wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Lots of love
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