The disappointed look on his face
It’s the Christmas eve.
The enormous Christmas tree,
Adorned with glistening ornaments
And glowing fairylights,
Looked brighter than his own house
Draped with lights his father could never afford.
His father —
The Santa Claus for others’ Christmas parties.
Until last year.
They said he couldn’t play his role too well,
For he was thin and lanky.
So this year, a more suitable Santa
Has replaced him.
Scent of freshly baked Christmas cakes
Is coming from a neighbouring bakery,
Amidst the bustling streets
Of the Christmas Market.
The hand-crafted greeting cards
Made with papers which smell of jasmine,
Folded with warm smiles
And stitched with love.
More love than the little boy
Has ever received.
Stalls tossed freshly roasted,
Golden brown chestnuts, carefully
Into paper cones,
And added generous layers
Of whipped cream.
The little boy hated Christmas.
To him, love never came in a box,
With a pretty ribbon, and a prettier price-tag.
As the evening sky faded away,
The pink and orange hues were replaced
With dark shades of blue, whilst the amber light of the street lamps
Spilled on the stone-paved streets.
He dared to lurk
Behind the inky black curtains
That hid reality, and saw children
Life was a carousel of little adventures,
And he was a silly kid on sugar rush
Not knowing it was a sin to dream.
Valleys grew deeper and mountains inched higher,
But the little boy and his eyes,
Full of gleaming hope and delicate dreams
Were like a hamster on its wheel,
Kept running away stationed to the same place,
Moving not an inch.
The giant church bell rings.
It’s 12 o’ clock.
Skies tainted in nostalgia.
Like his father’s vision.
The boy begins to miss his father,
Father, whose arms were warmer
Than the thin blanket in their house.
His lullabies and tender sighs.
Their entangled limbs, untangled minds.
The boy chokes and crumbles,
As he hears a terrific thud,
The sound of black boots falling
Fom the earth’s heavens as they slid
Down the chimney,
And covered the white floor with grey ash.
The outside as dead as the dreams
He’s still mourning after.
His face glowed,
And so did the cuts, the scars,
The deeply etched marks on it,
Like on the barks
Of a tree,
But only some you could see.
The little boy hid them well,
In the cobwebbed corners of his mind.
“Santa? Is that you?”
The dark room illuminated with the blinking of his eyes.
And when Santa’s numb fingers found his,
The way braille finds the blind,
For the first time,
He felt a tinge of happiness
That for once didn’t slip
Through his little fists,
The gift-wrapped diary felt like
A friendly neighbour
On this forlorn land.
His father, after all, was never too thin
To be his child’s Santa Claus.
Written by Aishwarya Roy