Monday, June 5, 2017

One more Letter ...

As the silence of the night was broken by the crickets there was one more sound matching it. The nib of the old Waterman pen on the paper. The writings were broken in between by pauses of thoughts. The late evening rain left a few drips which popped then and now. The air was filled with a strange fragrance, overpowering the smell of the disinfectant which wiped the floor. Was it the petrichor or Gods fragrance of compassion. The hospital wards were silent but for a few intermittent snores of the watchman, who were supposed to be the only ones awake at that time of the night. 

The bedside lamp on William's table was the only light other than the shy moonlight trickling to the earth through the fingers of the trees which tried to cut the light falling on its eyes. The white paper was shining like a bright full moon on the table with the dark blue table cover which just had a few sheets of paper and the table lamp. The nib touched the paper again letting the brain ooze out through the wedges of the pen's nib...which read...

Dear Dad...

The world seems to be envious of the few people who enjoy life to the fullest. The envy flows out through their eyes as tears. Is that compassion or is it something else. I have asked many times myself, why they do so. Today I saw a father and mother come with their only son who was successful in his exams. They were just worried and crying... They talked to Stephen for a while. He was trying to console them, with no success. Ha... ha ha... he should have called me. Why am I here, after winning the awards and accolades for nothing... hmm... Let it be. But the boy came up to me. I smiled at him. He was stressed with all the loads of things he had to study and the expectations everyone around him had. About the boy next door who got one mark more... All I did was not talk... but gave him a hug. He smiled. We became friends in no time. He is fast asleep ... He is safe. 

He is now more a son to me like Sunny, my only son till now, busy pursuing his studies abroad. Like Sunny, he also wants to become a doctor like me. Ann wants me to get back home... But then who will take care of my patients here. They need me more. I will call her tomorrow and tell her about the new found son, I have here, like Sunny. 

Its late, have an early morning rounds. Will have to check with Stephen about the new admission tomorrow. Will write to you tomorrow... till then ...

With love your son ...
Dr. William

The lights went out and William went to sleep as the night got more darker and was waiting to be brightened in a few hours by the sun. 

The hospital wards came to life as the morning shift staff signed in for the day and the started fresh from ward to ward, bed to bed. The Head Nurse walked to one of the beds and in a while was at Dr. Stephens room and said

"Doctor.... William has started writing again... here is yet another letter he has written to God"

Dr. Stephen smiled and took the letter from her and filed it in a special file he had in his table. He secured the file after putting the letter in place. He closed it and kept it back safe, and the cover had a red label "William Case number 423... Letters to God" 

As the head nurse was about to leave Stephen said:

"He would have been the best doctor the world has seen... sad... his life took a turn after he lost his son and his wife left him"

As he closed the cupboard Stephen thought:

"The thin line that divides fantasy and reality... the world of fantasy is so very soothing than the reality... Who is really mad... them or us, who try to find ways to make them do as we want to do ..."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lazy morning Sun ...



The clouds were blanket of warmth
When the sun was still to wake for the day
The cool breeze made him smile a bit
And made him lazy as in sleep he lay

He peeped through the clouds shyly once
Saw the world yet to wake for the day
He knew its time for him to wake the world
And shine his best for the wonderful day

The hugging clouds kept him in bed
But his duties called the birds to chirp
And wake him with a smile on his face
Its another day when he can't be a twirp.

Kris Iyer

Time tells the truth ...

Kannan was meeting Ramakrishnan Mama after a very long time, or rather should say he avoided meeting him just for that one incident. 

"Hello Ramakrishnan Mama, How are you?" Kannan asked without a smile. His words were not from the heart. Even after 30 odd years, the scars of those words remain in his heart. Some moments are better avoided and forgotten than remembered and rekindle the emotions which hurt you.

Ramakrishnan Mama , Appa's cousin's husband, was a person who always had airs about him, working for a private sector company, and the way he would talk would give a feeling as if he owned it. His salt and pepper well combed hair, silver rimmed glasses and dark complexion, chequred shirt and grey bell bottomed trousers gave him a look, which Kannan was not so comfortable with. His smile did not have much of the warmth of love, or at least that’s what Kannan thought. His son Sidhdharth Ramakrishnan was Kannan's playmate, the one of very few he had of his age or less, as Kannan was the youngest among the children in Appa's family. 

"Kanna ... how about going home and will be back in the evening" asked Sidhdharth.
"Sure Sidhdhu ... I will tell Amma and come soon" replied Kannan running towards home.

He went panting to the room where Amma was reading a magazine, one of her pastimes in the late afternoons. He reluctantly tugged Amma's saree.

"Amma... can I go to Sidhdhu's place and come back in the evening"
Amma took her attention away from the article in which she was engrossed and did not even see Kannan coming in. Amma smiled and replied
"Ok, be careful on the roads"
"Amma... I am taking the cycle" Kannan had that wicked smile as it was his new found passion to roam around in his newly gifted BSA SLR. 
Amma smiled and that smile said it all ... permission granted.

Kannan ran to his BSA SLR, standing shining in deep red color with the rim and spokes shining in the afternoon sun. He mounted it with ease and started off ... to gain the speed; he would stand and pedal fast, then sit and pedal to maintain the speed intermittently and rushed through the compound drive ways to reach the main road. It was as if he had conquered the roads, when the shining cycle with the smiling Kannan on it sped through the roads. His soft hair would be flying back, eyes would shine, smile giving away the joy in his ride. Within no time he reached Sidhdhu's house which was just a few minutes away. The ten year old Kannan was tall enough to be mistaken for a teen. He looked around in pride and parked his cycle by the side. Locked it and took the key tossed it up in the air and caught it. He squeaked the metal gates and rang the bell. 

Sidhdhu opened the doors and looked at the shining cycle outside

"Kanna... one ride" Sidhdhu pleadingly asked.
"No Amma has asked me not to give the cycle to anyone", came the reply from the proud owner.

They went inside and Sidhdhu was so happy to have Kannan sound. Talks, games, music... they had fun for over two hours when Ramakrishnan Mama reached home after work.

"So Kannan ... new cycle" asked Ramakrishnan Mama
Kannan smiled and slowly got up. Kids always find it difficult to be themselves when elders are around. 

"It's getting late... I have to go now" said Kannan and waved at Sidhdhu and ran out of the house to his cycle and quickly vanished from sight with his speed.

A few days had gone by. It was a Saturday evening and as Kannan walked back home he saw Ramakrishnan Mama standing there. 

"Kanna ... I would like to talk to you" said Ramakrishnan Mama
Kannan went up to him and stood there silent. The regular sweet smile was missing as he did not know what Ramakrishnan Mama wanted from him. Did Sidhdhu complain about anything, or is it about the cycle... thoughts hunted the ten year old. 
"I want you to tell me the truth ... You had come home last week and an Audio Cassette from my collection ... the Jagjeet Singh Chitra Singh cassette... its missing. I want you to give it back... No one else has come home after that or before that"
Ramakrishnan Mama said in a stern voice with a smirk on his lips. He had kept his hand on Kannan's shoulder giving a feeling of being the Investigating Officer for a supremely important murder case was being solved there.
"But... I did not take it" said Kannan with the pain of being accused of something which he had not done.
"I am giving you time..."said Ramakrishnan Mama.
Kannan's eyes turned red and tears started rolling down his fair cheeks. He pushed the hands from his shoulder and ran home. He threw himself to the bed and cried his heart out.

"I won’t steal, I did not, I will never ... but Ramakrishnan Mama believes I did so" Kannan was talking to himself. "Why would he say that...? I did nothing wrong". Kannan kept crying till the pillow was wet with the small boy’s tears. He had not gone downstairs till late

"Kanna ..." called Appa.

Kannan was shocked, Appa has come back from office, Did Ramakrishnan Mama complain about him, Is Appa calling to scold him ... thoughts ran wild. He slowly went down with his heart beating fast.

"My dear dearest chandu .... time for Dinner" Appa petted his beloved son and with one hand grabbed him with love. Kannan's heart came back to a normal tempo. There is nothing wrong, he thought. 

There was no talk about the cassette. 

Days passed and was almost a month since he had gone to Sidhdhu's house, far from normal. That evening while walking back home, he saw Ramakrishnan Mama talking to Mohan Periyappa, Kannan's paternal uncle. Kannan did not know whether to move forward or to retrace his steps. He walked towards home, with his ears awaiting a call and it was not long before he heard

"Kanna ... "

It was Mohan Periyappa. Kannan did not look back but walked forward without a reply. He ran home and went straight to Amma. The wandering thoughts came back to Kannan. Was Ramakrishnan Mama still hunting for his Audio Cassette, why was he blamed for something he had never thought of...

"Mami....." He heard Ramakrishnan Mama call Amma "Where is Kannan"
"He is here Ramakrishna ... come inside... Tea" Amma offered.
"No no ... just had" he replied and walking in turned to Kannan "You are not to be seen these days... Sidhdhu was asking about you"
Kannan remained silent.
"By the way ... I got the cassette... I had given to my friend in the office... I forgot"
The moments of pain and anguish Kannan went through never let him smile with his full heart to Ramakrishnan Mama again. Blamed for nothing, making him a thief for a theft which never happened, the smirk on his face with the sense of accomplishment that he found the culprit, all made Kannan aloof from him. The friendship with Sidhdhu remained for a very long time, but the question still remains in Kannan's head... "Why was I blamed for something I did not do".

Some words hurt you for a lifetime...

The moments of amazement...

"And she eloped with the guy next door ...Velu knows this" That were the words from Murugan Pillai, Kannan's father in law who was at home when he walked in. He was  talking to Appa in a very serious tone. Kannan smiled at them and walked in from a hectic day at work. 

"And what happened to Kaveri" Appa asked.
"Oh you did not know ... she is suffering from Cancer... very critical" said Murugan Pillai.

A typical government servant whose life starts in the morning with work and ends with family and nothing else. He was dark skinned well oiled hair set to a style reminding of those who saw it villains of Tamil movies of the 70's, wore brown shell framed glasses, old fashioned full sleeve shirt and trousers and his smile was a perfect dental ad one. He was always hyper with work and home accounts but he seemed to be different today and Appa was listening to him eagerly. The others were inside the house discussing the new variety of Sarees in the market and the ornament patterns that would have looked nice. Typical woman folk talk, nothing chauvinistic about it, but a fact of life.

Seeing everyone busy Kannan went to his room, changed and got into comfortable home clothes. He could still hear about the fight of Kaveri and her husband, the problems in her workplace, her medical conditions and so on, the discussion between Appa and Murugan Pillai. 

"Do I know her" Kannan thought for a moment.

He went to the kitchen and got himself a cup of coffee. Sipping the hot cup of filter coffee, Kannan was trying to place the relation or the common factors which Appa and Murugan Pillai were talking about. As he was walking out of the kitchen, he saw Amma, Priya and Saraswathy, Priya's mother, his M-I-L as they call it in the new lingo for Mother-in-law chatting away to glory. 

"Do you need anything" Asked Amma

That question could have been avoided Kannan thought in his mind as he saw his MIL looking at Priya and Priya looking at Amma for a brief moment. No wife  likes her MIL to take care of her son, as it is a constant struggle to prove who is better - "Wife" or "Mother". Probably the fight between women were mainly based on that one point. 

"No ...no ... I am fine... carry on" said Kannan and walked to the front room where Appa and Murugan Pillai were still discussing in length.

"And you know the guy who drives that pink Maruti" asked Murugan Pillai
"Ya" said Appa.

Kannan was still not able to figure out what was going on and did not want to disturb the serious discussion between them. 

"Pink Car!!! totally impossible... who would be driving a pink car of all the colors in the whole wide world" thought Kannan for a second and came back to the discussion. He saw Appa really paying attention. The matter would be really grave, otherwise Appa would not be listening so carefully, Kannan reached a conclusion in his mind and gave his attention too to the discussion. Murugan Pillai was seriously on it...

"He met with an accident ... he is in the same hospital where Kaveri went for her check up yesterday. She did not see him, but he saw him...."

Appa's eyes were set in a gaze at Murugan Pillai who continued.

"She will need a surgery, but cannot afford it"

Is it some charity issue, Kannan thought, but kept it to himself as he did not want to disturb.

"Krishna will not be able to help???" Appa asked.

Now who on the Supreme Lord is this Krishna, Kannan was bewildered, and getting more irritated on not able to place these people in the mental list of family and friends. He sipped the coffee which was cold, when compared to the heat of the discussion.

"Krishna won't... he gave the money he had to his lover last week" replied Murugan Pillai.

It was getting too much for Kannan to digest and he interrupted.

"Who is Kaveri, who is Krishna and what is the discussion all about ..." he broke his long kept silence.

All he could hear was laughter. Amma, Priya, MIL and FIL were laughing and Appa was laughing so much that Kannan saw Appa's eyes closed in the laugh.

"What happened... what’s so funny about someone having Cancer, not having money for treatment and accidents" Kannan asked to clear the doubts that had  
started eating him.

"They are to catch up with what both of missed the previous week on their favorite serial on Sun TV, the 9 O clock serial Chiththi" said Priya trying to control her laughter. Kannan also joined them in a rare happy moment.

Sharadha, Shakthi, Ramachandran, Vaidhegi, Prabhavathi, Krishna, Velumani, Kaveri, Vishwanathan, Yogi, Viji, Anand, Prasad, Marudhappan, Charulatha, Daniel were more names which Kannan got used to in the next two years as he heard Appa and Murugan Pillai discuss whenever they met. 467 episodes running over nearly two years, got many glued to it and Kannan thought only ladies get addicted to serials.... and thanked God for not being one of them.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ahana Smiles ...

“Amma ... why doesn’t little Ahana smile" asked Madhav while he had one more mouthful of the rice and dal mix which his mother gave.

Janaki was without any answer to little Madhav's question like always. She looked up to the sky as if asking God, "how can I answer such questions" and she looked at the shining eyes of Madhav still waiting for an answer from her as he chewed away the last gulp of food. Janaki wiped the forehead with the back of her hand carefully without smearing the few traces food on her hand while feeding her son.

"Why don’t we ask her tomorrow, or ask Krichbhagwan" Janaki smiled and replied.

Krichbhagwan was the name Madhav liked to call Lord Krishna, whom he liked more than anyone. But for Janaki Madhav was Krichbhagwan himself, the curly hair which swayed like feathers of peacock, the smooth skin which was as soft as butter, the smile which was so pure and the way he walked with little steps.... Janaki at times kept looking at the tiny foot marks on the floor Madhav would leave on the floor while he walked with wet feet after a wash. Janaki and Madhav had a world of their own and their playfulness and love could never be seen elsewhere.

The sweet kisses on the little feet Janaki loved to give, the tiny hands which rested on Janaki's face while Madhav slept... even Janardhan, Janaki's husband, would call them inseparables... with a smile on his face, which spoke volumes about the pride he had for his treasures Janaki and Madhav.

Janaki and Madhav spent the night in the dream world till the morning sun shines on the world for the next day. As the usual practice Janaki woke up before sunrise and carefully took the little hand holding her and placed it on a pillow and got up to quickly finish the chores before Madhav woke up. While she was busy Madhav woke up with the same question in mind, about Ahanas smiles. Madhav sneak out of the house towards the Krichbhagwan temple, to ask him. Hardly did anyone see him sneak into the temple as everyone were in their own world.

Madhav approached the Krichbhagwan idol and asked him "Krichbhagwan Krichbhavan ... why doesn’t Ahana smile?" from behind the idol Madhav heard the tinkling of anklets, a dark complexioned sweet smiling kid was hiding behind the idol. His smile was captive and magical.

"You want to see Ahana smile ... I know what to do" said the attractive curly haired boy wearing yellow silk dhoti.
Madhav was excited
"What should I do...? What should I do ..." Madhav asked eagerly.
"Hmmm... so you don’t know how difficult it is... still you want to know" asked the boy
"I want to see her smile ... she would look so beautiful with a smile on" replied Madhav.
"Well then... here is the way... if you cross the river of anger, go through the forest of fear and climb the hill of pain and you will reach a valley of happiness, bring a flower from the garden of Santhoshmai, and Ahana will smile again"
Madhav smiled his best and thanked the little boy and was about to leave when the boy stopped him.
"Here take my flute and this peacock feather and they will help you in your journey... and this small pack of butter for you to eat on the way" the boy handed them over.

With just the desire to see smiles on the smile less lips of Ahana Madhav set out on his adventure. Meanwhile Janaki burst into tears not able to find her son at home. Janardhan had started looking for him and within no time the whole village was searching for Madhav. They did not know what to do or where to search for the tiny one. Janaki never stopped crying and rushed to the temple crying to pray for her son’s safety. While she was praying the little boy from behind the idol came and touched her and the whole village froze. Everything stopped. People turned to still figurines, trees stopped swaying, and birds froze mid air and remained as if they were paused.

Madhav started happily running towards the hill the little boy had pointed and reached the river of anger. The raging river was furious and was lashing its anger on the rocks on the bed. The mighty river was turning rocks to sand with its strength. Madhav was standing on the bank of the river when a little fish jumped out of water. Madhav saw the fish gasping for air without water and gently picked it with his soft hands and put it back into a calm portion of the river on its side. The fish looked out from the surface of the water and smiled.

"Thank you little one... I am Ekabudhi, a fish who lives in the river of anger, thanks for saving my life. May I help you" asked the fish
"I want to go to the valley of happiness and need to cross the river of anger" said Madhav with the worry on his face
The fish looked at the peacock feather he had kept safely in his hand
"Oh you are Krishna's friend... I know that’s his... just place the feather on the water and you will have a way to cross the river" said Ekabudhi with excitement in its voice.

Madhav went to the river and placed the peacock feather on the water. It was a magical sight when the river calmed down with the touch of the feather and split into two giving way to Madhav to walk on the soft sandy river bed to go across. Madhav reached the other side, picked the feather from the water, waved at Ekabudhi and continued on his trail.

Madhav kept running towards the hill which was in sight and soon saw the light around him go dark in the forest where the trees shaded the sunlight. The forest of fear tried to scare Madhav with its darkness, the fear of the unknown. But the only thought in Madhav's mind still was Ahana's smiles. But soon he started feeling hungry and sat down under a tree. He was about to open the butter package the little boy had given him when a whole band of gorillas surrounded Madhav. 
Madhav smiled and asked "Are you hungry" and extended the pack of butter towards them.
The tough heart of the apes melt like butter with the smiles of Madhav. And the leader said "I am Kapeendra, the leader of the Gorillas...What are you doing in this forest of fears my little one"
Madhav narrated the whole story while having the butter from the pack which he shared with the gorillas too.
Kapeendra picked Madhav up "Don’t fear, we will help you get to the hill of pain, but not beyond that"
Madhav slept hugging the gorilla in his hairy chest and when he opened his eyes, they were at the foothills of the hill of pain. Kapeendra gently put him down and waved Madhav goodbye with a smile.

It was noon and the hill of pain was too steep. Madhav knew not how to climb the hill and playfully tapped one of the rocks with the flute the little boy had given him. The rock transformed to a huge black swan Mahabaka.
"Oh little one... what brings you to the hill of pain and why did you wake me from my years of cursed sleep... who are you" asked Mahabaka.
Madhav smiled and told the swan the whole story.

"Climb on... I would take you to the valley of happiness" said Mahabaka.
Madhav happily climbed the swan and it swooshed to the skies above the hill and flew down to the valley of happiness. As Madhav climbed down Mahabaka looked towards him and said "The flute you have is a magical one... keep it safe. I am sure it belongs to Krishna"
Madhav was anxious and eager to rush to Santhoshmai's house in the valley of happiness, so just smiled as he tucked the flute in his waistband. He waved Mahabaka sweet byes and ran towards the house in a distance where he could see a garden full of smiling violet flowers.

"Santhoshmai... Santhoshmai...."Madhav called out
Old Santhoshmai came with a bright sweet toothless smile. "Is it you Krishna..." asked Santhoshmai.
"No I am Madhav... and I want Ahana to smile" he said in a confident tone.
The old woman hugged Madhav and took him to the nearby bush and plucked a bunch of flowers and handed it over to him.
"Give it to Ahana and she will smile again my blessed one" said the old lady.
Madhav's happiness knew no bounds...He was sure that Ahana would smile again.
"It's going to be dusk and I don’t want you to go through the forest again" said Santhoshmai. She went inside her hut and brought a cup of warm milk.
"Drink this and you will be back to your village again"

Madhav happily took the cup of milk and drank it while holding firmly to the bunch of flowers which Santhoshmai had given him. The last drop from the cup was finished and in a flash Madhav was in his bed, as if he had just woken up. Madhav felt it was all a dream. He looked out of the window to see everything normal. Ahana was standing in front of her house still without the smiles. Madhav looked at his hand to see the bunch of violet flowers whose stalks were firmly clenched in his fist. He ran out and gave Ahana the flowers to see a beautiful smile bloom in her lips.

"Madhav..." he heard his mother call him. The smile was very precious and made Madhav smile too. Without saying anything he ran to his mother.
Janakai lifted him up and kissed him gently on his cheeks and asked "Where were you... I have been calling you for so long"
Madhav smiled at Ahana as he was carried home and the secret of the smiles remained with Madhav and Ahana. Madhav knew it was his Krichbhagwan who helped him cross the river of anger, cross the forest of fears and fly over the hill of pain to reach the valley of happiness to fetch the smiling flowers for Ahana.
"Amma... Krichbhagwan makes everyone happy" he said with all the excitement
"Yes my darling he does" said Janaki. The memories of Madhav missing had been erased from all the villagers’ minds by the little boy Krishna with a touch. Madhav knew how to overcome fear, pain and anger to bring smiles to his loved ones.

"Thank you Krichbhagwan" said Madhav with an everlasting smile.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Santa and Little Joe ...

It was a cold December and the season of Christmas. Every boy and girl in the world had written to Santa for the gifts they wanted from him. Little Joe too wanted his gift from Santa, the toy train he had seen at the toy store. He wrote a sweet mail to Santa a few days before Christmas...

Dear Santa,

Have you seen the sweet toy train?
It runs in the sun as well as rain
It has the smile and red hot nose
Has the chimney and the water hose

I have been a good boy for a while
I said thanks and please and smile
When someone smiles at me
That’s all you need to give to me

Love
Joe

He finished writing the mail and wiped his naughty pink face with the back of his hand and folded the letter well and kept the letter in the stocking meant for Santa. The shining brown eyes kept staring at the stocking by the side of the fireplace. Every night Little Joe walked to his bedroom, looking back again and again at the stocking where he expected Santa to gift him his toy train. He smelt always of chocolates he had been gobbling one after the other all day long. 

The news spread far and wide from the words of one of the elves at the North Pole that the biggest bag of gifts is to the little town of Nicholasville, far away from the city of London. Joe was so happy to hear his dad Big Joe tell this to his Mamma Mary. He was sure that he would get the sweet toy train from Santa. It was Christmas Eve and the night was a special one. Every house had Christmas trees adorned with glass balls and sweet candies. Every house had the fireplace where the stockings that awaited Santa's arrival.

Santa Claus came all the way from the North Pole with toys for all the children as per the list they wrote to him.  On the eve of Christmas, Santa came riding his sleigh with Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Olive and the red nosed Rudolf, to the small village and deliver the gifts to the children of the village.  As the sleigh flew down from the starry sky, Santa saw the small village lit up with lights of different colors. The village had an aroma of hot chocolate and freshly baked plum cakes and ginger bread. The aroma, made Santa a bit hungry, but smiled as usual

"Ho Ho Ho ... It’s the village I know
Here I come with the gifts for all
Those kids good and smiled for all
Not for the naughty little brats"

Santa took the biggest bag of gifts and got down from the sleigh, jumped into every house through the chimney and filled the stockings with the gifts, one after the other. Naughty Little Joe had not slept and kept looking at the fireplace and lo... there comes Santa. Little Joe tip toed to the door and hid himself while watching Santa take a beautiful colored ball and put it in the stocking. Little Joe was disappointed.... he had asked for the sweet toy train... and looked at the bag Santa had placed on the red chair near the tree. There it was... the sweet toy train... whose could it be... who the lucky boy...was Little Joe was eager to know. 

He walked out of the house and followed Santa. Santa walked slow, but steady with his huge tummy and the red woolen fur coat with white wool at the cuffs. He changed the huge bag from one shoulder to the other as he whistled and walked to a dark alley next street. Little Joe was so curious he kept walking behind Santa, running his fingers through the curly brown hair from time to time. Santa smiled as the chocolaty smell reached his nose and he knew Little Joe was behind him, but kept walking. He reached the door of an old run down house of the poor cobbler Mr. Brush. Mr. Brush was not well, and his son Harry worked on the streets polishing shoes for a living, as It was his earnings alone that got them the food every day. Santa slowly opened the door as the chimney was broken and kept the whole bag near the small tree which had a few candies. Drank a glug of chocolate that was kept for him. As he walked out, Joe rushed to him and shook him by the belt that held the tummy from falling. 

"Why does Harry get all that ... why... Santa... tell me why"

Santa kept his plump finger on his sweet red lips and said

"Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh ...."

He took the magic kerchief from his pocket and held Little Joe close to him and waved. "Poof ..." and they became invisible. They saw Little Harry with his torn woolen sweater and worn out pants, torn shoes, stitched to perfection. He pulled on a cap and walked out with all the gifts Santa had given him. He walked from home to home seeing children who did not have even a fireplace to keep them warm. He kept the best of the best toys and shared it with them. Every time he kept a gift near the window of a child, Harry smiled more, and Santa looked at Little Joy with a smile so priceless. It was almost dawn and Santa and Little Joe saw Harry walk back home with the empty bag... Harry had given away all that he got but earned a smile so precious for a year to come. He was the happiest child in the whole village, as the joy is in giving and sharing what you have. 

Santa held the small hand of Little Joe and walked back as it was almost sunrise and he had to leave. But before he left Santa smiled at Joe and put him to sleep. Joe woke up to see his dad Big Joe standing to wish him Merry Christmas with the sweet toy train. Little Joe could not believe his eyes....He thanked his dada and ran through the streets holding the toy train close to himself. Holding it as tight as he could as he ran to Harry's house. He knocked the door and waited... puffing and panting in the cold winter morning.

Harry opened the door and saw Little Joe standing with the sweet toy train. Little Joe extended his arms giving Harry the toy train he wanted so badly. Tears wiped the dust from Harry's face. He wiped the tears with the hands and took the Christmas gift from Little Joe... As Little Joe walked back, he too had a sweet smile on his face and seeing all this his Dada Big Joe was so happy and proud... and so was Santa who was flying through the clouds back home at the North Pole... sure to come back with a huge bag of gifts for Little Joe next Christmas.

Gratia the beautiful Mermaid

Deep within the sea so blue, deep within the heart of the sea, there lies a kingdom of the mermaids and men. Of all the mermaids the queen of the land gave birth to the most charming mermaid ever born. The king and queen gave her the name "Gratia". She grew up among the others with love and care. Everyone adored her beauty. 

Her twinkling eyes like stars 
Were as blue as the sea
Her beauty was beyond words 
What one could ever see

She grew with the shining pearl oysters who gave her the pearls to wear, and the corals who beaded the coral crown. Her skin was as delicate white as the mountain snow. But, about her beauty, the world far away did not ever know. Fishes came to her to share the smiles and the weeds tried to hold her back when it was time for her to go. 

Once a fisherman lost his way and came to the lost world of the mermaids and men. He saw the most beautiful Gratia playing with the school of fish. He was stunned by her beauty. He kept looking at her till it was dark and she flapped her tail fins and swam down to the palace down under the sea. The fisherman let himself lay on his boat looking up at the starry sky. But wherever he looked he just saw the beautiful mermaid princess. As soon as the sun rose in the east, the fisherman tried to get back to his village, all the while thinking about the beautiful mermaid he saw. He reached home and sat his eyes wide open in a daze. Everyone rushed to him and kept asking him what had happened. He blurted out in amazement

I saw a mermaid fair and bright
She was real but shines like gold
It is, by far, the beautiful sight
That I will, in my heart hold

Her golden hair & deep blue eyes
Shiny silver fins that shines
Charming as a spring sunrise
Beauty that no word defines

Hearing the fisherman talk about the beauty of Gratia, many more went to the unknown land just to get a glimpse of the beauty beyond words. Everyone adored her, praising her and sing songs on her beauty and charm. Gratia knew very well that all of them had come to adore her charm. She smiled at them, waved at them with a smile. More and more came to know about her beauty and came rushing to see her in the sea. 

All this went into her heart like a shot of poison called pride. She was lost in her own beauty that she stopped caring for the weeds and corals, never mind the shells and pearls. She kept away from the fishes too and said they were ugly too. The fishes were saddened, the weeds kept away, oysters never opened their heart to give Gratia a pearl, corals made her crowns no more. 

Days passed and Gratia spent hours looking only at herself. As the people gathered around she would swim with a haughty flap of her tail fins. Her smile too was colored with the purple of pride. A child who was in a boat cried out

"She is a witch... see her smile"

And people got scared hearing the child. The people stopped coming to the part of the sea, where mermaid sat alone in the bed with no fishes or corals around. Weeds grew away from her and her smile was of dark purple pride. The twinkle in her eyes were gone, the shine and smile were also gone. Gratia was lonely in the sea bed with no one around to adore her beauty. Gratia went to the king, her father, and cried

"There is no one to smile at me
None to share or care for me
I was the most charming one
But no one wants me to have fun"

The king looked at the pride which had taken the shine away. He said calmly to his daughter

"Once you had a heart that cared
A lovely smile that happiness shared
That’s the beauty of the heart my love
You are precious when you love"

All night Gratia cried and turned the sea water more salty. The sobs shook the heart of the sea and a tiny fish came to her. With his little fins the small fish wiped the tears of Gratia. Pat her with the tail fins and tickled her to smile. With the morning sun trickle through the sea, the little fish had brought a school of fish to the princess. He also brought a crown from the corals and pearls from the oysters. The weeds came along and hugged the mermaid princess and Gratia was smiling pink of happiness again. Since then, mermaids taking the lesson from Gratia, never heeded to the words of flattery from men from the land. They kept themselves within the sea and their friends, as you are precious when you have those who care... around you.