The sun shone in the mellow way that it sometimes does. It was a cold morning and a little boy was excited. For this was the day Santa brought gifts! He had carefully hung out socks and an old muffler. They did not possess stockings and mittens, in fact,he actually had no idea what a mitten was. Since he was only eight, we excuse him for thinking it was some kind of a kitten. He just hoped that Santa would accept a sock and a muffler as a suitable receptacle for placing goodies.
Vimalambal woke early. It was margazhi, the holy month and it was said that getting up early would ensure a spot in Vaikuntha. She was getting old and did not want to take any chances. Savitri, her arch rival had most conveniently expired on a holy day and if savitri was in heaven, then by hell (pun unintended) she was going there too.Plus It was Vaikuntha Ekadasi. After her bath, she mumbled prayers and fiddled for the light switch in the hall and her hand hit something.
“Aiyyo” . Her screams woke the entire household. Appa thought she had fallen and broken her hip. Amma chastised appa for thinking that way and guessed (rightly) that some blasphemy had occurred. “I have touched socks..Which fool has placed them here? Chah..im all impure now! fie fie*”
A few strong cups of coffee later the mystery was cleared. I was reading to many Enid Blyton’s and in all my naivete had believed Santa mama to come bearing gifts. Also I have never seen my parents laugh so hard. Ever. The events also sparked off a series of cheap jokes on me and socks. To this day it rankles. Most children rejoice at the thought of Christmas. I cower in fear of lame jokes and people dangling socks under my nose (smelly ones at that).
To be fair to Vimalambal (name changed to protect identity) and the others, I shall narrate this too. Later in the day she called her grandson and gave him a 100 rupee note. for Christmas, from Santa mama. His parents also got him gifts. Awww..happy family moment. His parents also later discreetly cautioned him against getting such ideas during Easter. He was expressly forbidden to get eggs of any sort, lest Viamlambal throw a royal, purple fit.
*replaced. This is a family-friendly place. And words uttered by old ladies sometimes put the most reprobate to shame, notwithstanding holy months or days.