As the wasteful Dirty Dozen find their lost helmet in a sink with a bag of uneatan food, Santa caps bring in the Christmas cheer for the ragpicker kids. Its Christmas and you celebrate it the way you wish to.
“Jaldi sey helmet laa.” [Get the helmet quickly] A boy, sitting on his motorbike, was shouting from the road.
“Where is it? I cannot find it.”
“It is under the table.”
“No it is not.”
“On the sofa then?”
“On the shelves?”
“On the chairs?”
This conversation fell into my ears from the flat next door where a bunch of students, notorious for their unclean habits, stayed. I had named the house, Dirty Dozen Den.
The elusive helmet was ultimately not found, and the boy drove away without the helmet, leaving me worrying for his safety. I could not see any Christmas cheer anywhere, except two ill-clad kids donning Santa caps frolicking in the mud, while their parents slogged away at the construction site. Suddenly a couple of hens from a shack a little distance away, came skittering in my direction.
Was it their instinct, pangs of hunger, or extraordinarily sharp ears, that they seemed to have heard the plonk before me? I whirled around to see what had been hurled from the neighboring flat. It was a polythene bag with yesterday’s leftovers which the boys had thrown, missing me by a miniscule margin.
Before I could utter a word of protest, someone shouted from the road, “Don’t you boys have any manners? Hurling your garbage on the road like this? I am going to complain to your landlord. You are bent on creating a mess here. We will not tolerate this!”
One of the boys opened the door a crack, saw who was shouting and closed the door, a staunch supporter of the dictum, ‘hear no evil, see no evil’. But the couple of hens had seen what they wanted. They rushed up to the bag, squawking and cackling, treading on each other’s toes, pecked open the bag, and started gorging on yesterday’s leftovers, nudging and shoving each other, happy at today’s feast.
A sad looking man on a ramshackle cycle, with a red Santa cap on his head was selling Santa caps. No one seemed to be buying. I stopped him and bought a dozen. No, I had no plans of distributing them to the Dirty Dozen, but I had other plans.
Happy that there was no vile Grinch around [You are a vile one
You got termites in your smile] to spoil the meagre festive cheer for the hens, I went inside and brought some more fodder for the hens to feed on. Losing interest in the bag, now they skittered towards me, expectation in their eyes, haste in their stride and hunger in their stomachs. A belligerent looking crow [Was Grinch disguised as a crow! How innovative!] sitting on the telephone wire, swooped down and pounced on the plastic bag. The hens, in the meantime, gobbled up the fodder that I had got for them. Before I could go back home, a loud, triumphant yell from inside the Dirty Dozen Den fell into my ears. Was Grinch wreaking havoc there? Shedding all his termites in the already stinky room?
“Look, where I found the helmet.”
“In the kitchen sink!”
“Yesterday, we had kept some packets from Swiggy in the upturned helmet, and when we picked up the empty things, someone in a half sleepy state picked up the helmet too and dumped it in the sink.” I heard a voice, followed by loud, unapologetic guffaws.
A scrimmage had broken out between the hens and the crow, but I never had any patience with scrimmages, so I hopped home and donning one of the Christmas caps, snuggled on the sofa with a cup of tea, while the guffaws in the neighboring den continued unabated.
It was very cold, but I needed no bonfires or heaters to dispel the cold. The man who had been selling Santa caps had gifted me a generous dose of warm, grateful smiles which would keep me warm throughout the winter months, wrapping me in a cloak of festive cheer. Christmas is here! Celebrate it the way that makes you smile and stay merry. 🙂
(Graphics: Pixabay/ Illustration: Antara)
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