Michel thought – “I am fortunate enough to get my prey so easily.”
And he lost no time in banging the doors of his lonely target.
A small boy peeped through the window and asked – “Who are you?”
Michel turned around.
Small boy screamed with joy – “Oh! Santa, I have been waiting for you for years and where are your reindeers?”
With a wide grin on his face Michel whispered – “Allow me the pleasure of giving you gifts and a joy ride on my reindeers.”
Small boy unbolted the door and said – “Santa, I am Peter. Won’t you be angry if I touch you because seeing you in person is like a dream come true for me.?”
Michel smiled on his innocence and said – “Peter, I am not a dream.”
Peter hesitantly touched his red flowing robe and bag full of chocolates and almost cried with joy.
Peter hugged him tightly and said – “Thanks for coming Santa. I love you.”
Michael got emotional by this unadulterated display of affection. All he had received so far was choicest of abuses from policemen. He sat down on a chair. Peter rushed towards the kitchen and brought some sweets and cake. He said – “Santa, you have to wait for cherry. My mother has gone to market to bring them.”
Nibbling a piece of cake he asked – “But where is your father.”
Peter replied in a sad voice – “My father died two years ago in an accident.”
Michel felt pity about the child. He asked – “Then how does your mother run the house.”
Peter – “My mother makes envelopes all the day and I also help her making them and till late night she stitches clothes.”
Michael was ashamed of himself. He thought how mean and selfish he was!
He thought -“Being a grown up man and physically strong, I am stealing others’ money by cheating them but this small boy and his mother have not lost honesty and courage even in the face of such adversity.”
Suddenly he stood up and said – “This bag is full of chocolates for you.”
Peter – “But I don’t have anything to give you.”
Michael wiped his wet eyes and replied – “Till now nobody has ever given any gift to Santa, but you have unknowingly given me a wonderful gift. I shall always be grateful to you.”
Peter could not understand anything but smiled and said – “Please come next Christmas too.”
“Definitely” giving a warm hug, Michael left for a new beginning of life.
~ Dr. Manjari Shukla (Also published in The Hindu)
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