Harsh winds whirl in the cold winter night and under the star-lit sky an empty stomach sleeps hungry tonight. It’s Christmas Eve but Chhotu, like countless other underprivileged kids is oblivious to the spirit of the occasion. He receives no gifts under the Christmas tree, heck, he can’t even afford the Christmas tree nor a roof to keep it under. And while he’s snoozing away unaware of the reason for celebration, somebody somewhere is making plans for him – making a list and checking it twice!
Chhotu is our garbage pick-up boy. He’s merely sixteen but his financial problems have forced him to live a life of incomplete education and inadequate nutrition. I and my family members often take pity on him and occasionally offer him a packet of biscuits with a cup of chai – heavily sweetened to his liking. But this Hanukkah when dad asked me what I wanted for the festival, I refused him to treat me with any presents at all. I wanted to rise above my oblivious, privileged self. My ears twitched for a role-reversal. This time I wanted to play Santa.
So, on Christmas morning when Chhotu rang the bell and patiently waited outside for us to bring the garbage to the door, I dare say we exceeded his expectations… by a long shot. Instead of the usual garbage bins, he was greeted by two enormous sized gifts. He just stood staring for a second – paralysed – too surprised to grasp the situation instantly. Then, before even taking the gift, streams of tears gushed like floods down his cheeks. I put down the presents and we all embraced him lovingly. I’m pretty certain he’ll remember Christmas now.
It doesn’t always take a lot of time or money to bring a smile to someone’s face. Given that selfless giving and spreading cheer and joy are the hallmarks of Christmas, I think it’s safe to say that it was a Christmas well spent. So, when are you playing Santa next?
– Guntaas Chugh