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The Happy New Year Gift

January 1, 2022 | By

As the curtains rise on the brand new year 2022, you make someone somewhere feel good about life and living. Bring on the smiles and make a new beginning today.

Enjoy Morning Meanderings Season 2 with your hot cuppa and cookies. ☕🍪😊

The sun was bright today and seemed to have shed off some of its procrastination. It was restive, so restive that it tried to gate-crash, nay, window-crash into my room, where I was trying to snuggle deeper into the quilt. The quilt was pretty inviting, but the sounds coming from the other house were trying to sabotage that invitation.  I ferreted deep inside the quilt as if hunting for some lost treasure.

The three-year-old kid in the next house was stomping around, as usual. “He wants to go out.” I could hear the grandfather’s voice.
Who doesn’t like the crisp new morn, the joyous, free breeze, the rustle of trees, and the unfettered twittering of birds?

Rise and shine, rise and shine – the sun’s rays prodded me, poking and pinging, highly intrusive. I was in no mood to get up, but there was no way I could ignore the fiery reprimands of the poking fingers of brilliance.

Off I went out of the house in a rush, no longer in a position to postpone the mission of rising and shining.

I saw the masked grandfather and his masked three-year-old grandson walking at a very slow pace. Hand in hand. The grandfather was pointing the birds to him and he was talking some gibberish, which the grandfather alone understood and responded to with equal enthusiasm.

Two emaciated pups shivering under the neighbour’s car saw me, and came towards me, wagging their small tails, and peered up at me expectantly. I rushed back home and soon was out with a bowl of milk and some bread slices. They pounced on me, like…well…like only famished pups can, and within no time, had finished the milk and the bread slices.  As I again started to walk further they rolled at my feet, followed me for a short distance, and then went back under the warmth of the car.

A new building was being built a few feet away from our apartments and there was once again a whole lot of interesting characters holed up in the temporary structures built for them by the builder.  The labourers were exchanging good morning greetings, hurling the most colourful expletives at each other, embellished with lopsided smiles.

Near the community tap, sat a very old woman, in a frayed saree, brushing her teeth. She smiled warmly in my direction.  I realized that her smile was warm, but she was shivering in the cold, while I was clad in two heavy sweaters and a shawl.  Before she knew what I was doing, I had covered her with my shawl.

“Oh, madamji! Yeh kya kar rahey ho?”  She said, her glance travelling from the shawl to me. “Its a Happy New Year gift,” I said.

“I washed my shawl yesterday,” she said pointing towards a tattered shawl on the clothesline, with a smile which was slightly quivering now. But the smile of joy on her wrinkled face was my best turn of the year moment.

Then, I don’t know what came over her, she stretched two skeletal arms towards me and hugged me, and taken by pure pleasure, I hugged her tighter. With a huge smile on my face, I walked further. Being a tactile person, this unnatural concept of social distancing and avoiding hugging had taken a heavy toll on my heart and mind. The feel of those skeletal arms around me put a new vigour in me. I felt rejuvenated. Reborn.

I looked back, she was looking in my direction, her hand raised.

The pups bounded towards the woman, licked her and curled next to her.  Their canine intuition had told them, that she needed warmth. Although the sun was up there, my fingers felt cold,  and the tip of my nose also felt separately cold. I wondered why the nose always got colder than the rest of me – is it because it was extended. What if it had a roof over its head? But deep inside, I felt warm, very warm.

neel gai family, [Blue Bull], the male and female and their two young ones were peeping from behind a thicket. They stopped what they were doing, and peered at me through wary eyes. Realizing that I was pretty harmless, the couple, broke into a canter, rather, the male started chasing the female across the construction sites, (or was it the other way round?) while the half-sleepy labourers looked on, groggily.

With a juvenility, very much a part of my weird persona, I started wondering whether one of the nilgai calves was not actually Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, who had scurried back to have a fling with the nilgai calves, while Christmas Father plodded on into the unknown?

Sheepishly shrugging away my flights of imagination, I walked on.

A day before Christmas,  I had seen a very enterprising vendor, who stays a few blocks away from our house, in a small, ramshackle shack, and sells things according to the demands of the festive season,  heading towards the market, his cart full of Santa Claus masks and caps, one Santa cap adorning his head too.

“Madam, aap bhi ek cap ley lo.” 

“But, I am not carrying any money with me.”

“That is no problem. Give me later,” he said, putting the cap over my head and beaming at me.

“Yesterday, I earned quite a lot selling these caps and masks. Not just kids, but adults also buy these masks,” he said, with a huge smile.

“Great!”

“You know, on Diwali, I used to earn quite a lot selling diyas, but this year not much. On Sankranti, I hope to earn quite a bit selling kites,”  he said, waving to me, as I walked further.

Today, his cart was full of kites – red, blue, yellow and green. Tiny boys and girls of the labourers had already started flying kites, and the morning was not even fully awake, full of boisterous banter.

MORNING MEANDERINGS SEASON 2

Morning Meanderings is a musings column by Santosh Bakaya

I could see a bird merrily sailing overhead, competing with kites of varied hues. On 14 January, the Jaipur sky would be choc-a-bloc with multi-hued kites, whizzing, swishing and cruising along singing songs of freedom and celebrating diversity.
A bird winged past. I stopped to look closely at it. Was it the dove of peace with an olive branch in its beak chirping, “Happy New Year?”

New posters had come up on the walls, and shining above all of them was a poster, which only said, LOVE.

Under a tree sat a labourer sharing a packet of biscuits with his little son, probably two year old, who chuckled on seeing me. Bits of his biscuit flew all over the ground as the tiny one bit into it. He broke into a fresh spate of giggles and waved to me, while his father grinned apologetically in my direction.

The New Year waited in the shadows and earnestly hoping that kids like him have more privileges than just a packet of biscuits, I stepped into the house. The sun was now a fiery ball and every cloud seemed to be sheathed in golden lines. And gold, they say is precious.

(Pictures courtesy: Pixabay)

Click here to read all episodes of Morning Meanderings Season 2

Don’t Forget to Revisit Morning Meanderings Season 1

Dr Santosh Bakaya is the author of three mystery novels for young adults, and a book of essays titled Flights From My Terrace, which was recently published as an e-book on Smashwords. Her poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Ballad Of Bapu has been published by Vitasta Publishers, Delhi, India in May 2015 and has been receiving rave reviews from everywhere. Although a Political theorist, with a doctorate in political theory, it is literature which has been her first love. She was awarded the Reuel international award for language and literature 2014 for her long poem Oh Hark!, which forms part of the Significant Anthology. Many of her poems have figured in the highly commended category in Destiny Poets, a UK based website and many are part of international anthologies. Right now, she is giving the final touches to her satirical novel, tentatively titled Sanakpur Shenanigans.
All Posts of Santosh Bakaya

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2 thoughts on “The Happy New Year Gift

  • R Jayachandran

    I could feel my hunger vanish as you fed those little pups. I felt the warmness hug the old woman as you wrapped your shawl around her. I felt the vendor’s joy as he put that cap on your head. I felt the baby thrill of the labourer’s kid as he giggled happily at you.

    Beautifully penned. Regards and best wishes.

    I looked up and saw the bird singing merrily in a sky full of kites. And I saw the golden rays of the morning sun showering its blessings on you and your pen.

    Beautifully penned.

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