It was getting dark and Amma and my sisters haven’t come back from the bakery yet. Akshavani had visitors. I could hear people talking and laughing in her house, while I was all alone in my home.
I felt very restless, mostly because I had the audacity to ask my mother, why she married my father and destroyed his life, when I knew very well that he is a lousy husband. I had no right to judge my mother and there was no way I could undo the damage. I felt that I am such a colossal failure.
What is the point of living like this? I will always be a burden to my family. I got up from my bed and locked the house and started to walk. I didn’t have any idea where I was going. All I felt was the need to get out of the house.
The road near the parade ground was desserted. All the lawyers offices were closed. Even the tuck shop near the corner was closed. I walked aimlessly in search of peace on the eve of Christmas.
I could see lots of people walking towards the CSI church near the collectorate. Why are they all in a rush? I wondered
When I reached the church, I understood why! It was the Christmas eve Carol service. It is the most important day for all the Church choir members. After months of practice, they perform the Christmas carols on Christmas eve. Achakuttichayan must be with the choir members at the back of the church, doing last minute rehearsal. He will paly his mouth organ and make everyone do the vocal exercise. I know that, because I used to sing in the choir.
“Hey that is Nina” I heard someone shouting. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, so I walked away quickly. I had promised myself 3 years ago, never again, will I enter the CSI church in Kottayam and I intend to keep my promise.
I walked past the Collectorate, the bus stop in front of the collectorate was empty. Even the kadalakkaran(peanut seller), who used to stand near the auto stand and fry peanuts in a huge wok was missing.
Everyone goes home to celebrate Christmas. That is everyone except me. I don’t have a home, just like Methran Thambi, the most famous Methran Thambi, my grand father.
Nobody knows where he is buried. His body lies in an unmarked grave. Nobody goes to the cemetry and pray for him on his death anniversary. Nobody asks for special prayers for him at the church. But does that mean he is unlucky? I think he is one lucky guy. He escaped from all the responsibilities. How nice it would be to just sleep for eternity?
The railway bridge was only a km away. I started to walk fast, every time I saw someone familiar walking towards me, I looked down, so I won’t have to make any eye contact and waste my time talking irrelevant things.
There were hardly any cars or buses on the road. That is a good thing, I thought.
Third or fourth house from the railway bridge, I could see a mother, trying to pull her son away from the gate.
‘Oh, come on, get lost, go away’ I tried to mentally tell the boy and his mother to leave. I was just 200 meters away from the railway bridge and the last thing I wanted to have is people around me.
“money(son) if we are late, daddy will be angry with us, ” I heard the mother telling the boy. He pretended he didn’t hear his mother.
“Hurry up, we are going to be late for the Church service” She started to yell, while trying to pry open his little hands and free him from the gate. He was holding on to the gate with all his might.
I looked at the boy, he was all dressed in his best clothes for the church service. What is he looking at? I wondered
“Oh, please, come let us go, if we don’t go now, we won’t get any place to sit in the church, I promise I will let you watch this as long as you want on the way back”
The boy didn’t budge and the mother started to hit him while yelling
“You won’t listen to me? I will teach you a lesson”
She was screaming and the boy was crying.
Why do parents have to hit their children like this? I didn’t know
I watched the mother pulling and dragging her son, who was now howling at the top of his voice and she started to walk towards the church.
‘Come on lady, it is Christmas eve, Why do you have to make that kid cry?’ I wanted to ask her
When she reached near me, she looked at me and smiled a nervous smile and pointed to the crying child
“Oh, this child never listens. I am tired of raising him. He just wants to stand there and watch. I don’t know what he sees there”
I smiled at her, as though I understood, how hard it is to raise kids. I didn’t have any rights to tell her, how to raise her son.
What was the boy watching? I didn’t know. I quickly walked towards the house where the boy was standing and looking just now.
‘Oh my goodness’
The entire car porch has been converted to a giant crib.
Black tarpauline was used to make the shape of a cave. Inside the cave, there were statues of Mary, Joseph and the three wisemen from the east, each carrying a gift for the new born baby.
Baby Jesus was laying down in a small box covered with hay. There were cows, lambs, donkeys and even hens all around baby Jesus and looking at him. There was even a tiny water fall by the side of the cave. I have never seen anything like this before. Someone really had so much of patience to create all these.
I looked at mother Mary. She was wearing a blue and white dress. Her face was smooth and glistening. She looked so peaceful, that I felt like going and touching her face.
She was looking at her son with so much of love in her eyes, much more love than I ever saw in my own mother’s eyes.
I thought, Here is a woman, that according to the legend, carried God’s child at a time, when she would have been judged for her morality. Yet she never gave up her life. She did what she has to do and here I am, trying to end something, just because my mother, my father,my sisters and my friends don’t love me.
I looked at Joseph’s statue. He wore a long red and blue robe. He was holding a staff and standing close to Mary and looking at the baby. He was standing by the woman, who is his wife, but the child isn’t his. Even he could love a woman, who didn’t carry his child, While I was meassuring my love with what I got in return
I looked at the three wise men from east, They each followed their heart and found what they were looking for.
I looked at the statues of angels guarding the cave. I felt they were trying to tell me,
‘We are always near you Nina. You just have to look’
That is the moment I realized, though my idea of Christmas is a tree, christmas star, christmas cake, fire crackers and a family together, there is much more to Christmas.
Christmas is not just about families being together, laughing and merry making. Christmas is also about doing your job, that each of are send here to do and that I am yet to do. I remembered what Tagore wrote
I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung
The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.
The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.
I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice;
only I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.
The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor;
but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.
I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet.