This is purely in the Kids’ zone….This is about "A divine gift".......]
First tunes of few just—awakened birds echo from hills to forest to welcome the first morning glow of the Easter Sunday. Soon the ridges that look like long walls on the east will reveal an orange sun. Its very first rays will kiss crests of those slender trees, and, fast everything will get its luminous touch.
Joe gets up. Folding palms near to his chest, he whispers the morning prayer and leaves the bed. Sunday is always a different day in his residential school. It doesn’t have scheduled classes and home studies. Moreover, it is the Easter Sunday. So, daily errands are faster done than on any other day. Soon Joe is neatly dressed up and joins friends and teachers for ceremonial service. Although the spring has already arrived the morning breeze is still pretty chill in this hill town. Candles gently held between tiny trembling hands the big queue of innocent souls walks on towards St. Mary’s Grotto. For Joe this walk has ever been fascinating. He loves the road silently laid in an idle morning with fogs hovering above. The busy market seems asleep deep with dreams of prosperity. The toy train tracks appear narrower and Joe loves to see how local lads use real toys to carry water-pots from source to dwelling places. But, the most enjoyable tract is where it runs a steady ascent through the pine forest. Joe can distinctly hear whispers of each of those trees. It finally reaches the Grotto where Joe puts his candle. More candles are placed, one after another, by his friends. Its smooth flames tremble with relaxing touch of the morning breeze. Soon gentle light and trusting souls illuminate the semi-dark cave and the smiling face of Mother holding her baby Jesus fills Joe’s heart with innocent joy. He can see somewhere in her face, ever smiling face of his sweet mother. And, instantaneously a few bundles of white fogs start swirling around and Joe can smell soothing fragrance of his mother. The Grotto has been nicely decorated with colourful ribbons, white roses, long pine leaves and some freshly bloomed rhododendrons.
Together they walk back singing beautiful tunes of hymns all the way. Joe offers a part of his breakfast and neatly finishes the rest. The environment takes him so floatingly away from the world of dins and funs that Joe finds peace more in sitting just by the side of his pet window. None knows but Joe talks to the window when alone; he even calls it by a name—“little world”—and, he loves clear long glasses it holds so wide to cover the most distant fading lines of the horizon. It is open to the south-east and Joe can see part of the plains long below where rivers and brooks have drawn numerous interesting designs. Here Joe has seen how birds build their nests in early Spring—they do not ask any one else to help, they just do it together, picking twigs, one by one, and put them neatly to make a warm place to stay for a few more months till their babies grow enough to fly on their own; and some day before winter, they will move out to some other place joe never knows. All these together make it the most trusting companion of Joe.
Joe opens it up wide and gazes beyond. His vision jumps upon, hills after hills, treetops to treetops, swings around a few mounds where tea plants have freshly been trimmed and again it soars high to catch up mountain eagles and soon glides down sweepingly near to the valley where some woodpeckers are engaged in playing a repetitive melody.
But, when it finally ends its journey, Joe is taken aback to find someone’s presence so near to him, yet unbelievingly he turns around to take no notice of it. Still, he hears some long—known’s sound, a musical one; and, soon he is called by name. He can no longer ignore it as a matter of past, as a matter of dream or a matter of fiction. He is sure of her sweet voice and it cannot be of anyone else.
“But, how can Minie come after so long time?”, Joe wonders.
Minie, a brightly coloured butterfly, has been a friend of Joe since his childhood and, to be more specific, since Minie was a caterpillar. She is the most talkative living being Joe has ever seen or met any during his not very long life. Despite all these facts, Joe used to enjoy presence of Minie for two reasons—firstly, she used to smile and smile even while speaking; and secondly, although she had a nature to carp on everyone’s action and find something amiss in anyone’s quality, she never doubted so of Joe ever. But, Joe hasn’t seen Minie since the last two springs. He honestly hoped for her coming back during the first season and sincerely believed that she would never come back for the next.
A very thought of Minie’s presence fills Joe’s soul with much nostalgic air, and memories start appearing, one after another, so fast as if it has been a child’s play of turning pages of a picture book. Joe recalls Tod also. Tod is tadpole; rather was a tadpole. He must have become a proud frog hopefully since Joe has not met Tod for more than a year. But, those days had been so rejoicing to remember when he and his two little friends had had all funs and freedom to get closer to the nature.
Joe remembers and smile makes his lips wider and bubbles of laughter starts brewing inside. He recollects when on fine morning he introduced Minie to Tod. It was near his beautiful home—a space with numerous trees, flowers, and bushes surrounding a saffron bungalow and a placid pool on its south. Tod was a cute tadpole with a shining skin, as dark as Joe’s naughty boy shoe. His eyes were as big as the gem on the ring that Joe wears on his right index finger. But, Tod had been pretty polite except when someone asked him anything about his somewhat awkward tail.
Minie had been too conscious of her beautiful wings. On seeing Tod, she started laughing so much that it was about to choke her ever-resonating voice. Finally, when settled, Minie asked, “Joe, that’s your new friend with neither a pair of wings nor a pair of legs? That’s so funny a creature!”
Joe did not like Tod to be so crudely described, and that too by one of his closest friends. He immediately rebutted Minie as furiously as his polite nature could permit. Yet, it didn’t discourage Minie to engage in further questioning.
“Tell me Joe, how could one spend his life just by swimming throughout?”, Minie queried.
“No, I will soon have legs, Minie. I will soon be hopping around all over the earth, even farther what your little feeble wings will ever carry you with!”, Tod retorted.
Even before Joe could intervene, Minie, as ever forthcoming, took a swift glide with fluttering of wings so nicely that even a foe would not fail to get tempt to appreciate her beauty. She finally sat upon the spectacles safely rest upon Joe’s slender nose and spoke musically, “Tod, how could you hope for a pair of legs while you don’t have even a faint sign of it on your body, and what will you do with your tail then? You will look like a Kangaroo then, Ha Ha !”
“How could you get those wings with so many colourful rings on it and only a few pairs of legs while you had had so many legs as a worm? It is as simple as that.”, Tod asked pretty intelligently.
“Hey, I had never been a dull colourless worm, Tod. Joe knows how green silky skin I had had then. Yes, I didn’t have wings, but had millions of thin hairs on my body to bear enough sign of having wings one day.”, Minie replied.
Joe found the debate going beyond its usual place and put a full stop with all assertiveness, and said, “Dear friends, we are all friends here. We should not discuss about how a worm can transform into a butterfly, or how a tadpole can become a frog, or how legs could change into wings or a tail could turn into legs.” Joe was quite satisfied to end this long sentence for it had silenced both his arguing friends and truly suppressed his own hidden desire to know how really those things happen. Nevertheless, he felt to drop the idea of knowing about it for in weighing the benefits of not knowing about it. Although there was the least possibility of those arguments leading to battle ( or fight in a qualitative term ) as neither minie would surely plunge into the pool to get drenched nor Tod would fly in the air to get dried up alike a wafer, still Joe didn’t like to be a witness to friends in conflict. That was not his nature. So, he bunged up all with as much authority as the bangs of the Jury’s hammer would bear.
A rather persistent call brings Joe back from the dream—walk down the memory lane. It is truly Minie saying something to Joe. She, in the meanwhile, has perched nicely upon her favourite place, the golden circular frame of Joe’s new spectacles.
“Joe, just forgotten me? So serious are you in studies and of a composed presence in those Harry-like specs that you haven’t wished me back, friend!”, said Minie seemingly hurt.
“I’m so sorry, Minie! I can’t believe that you really are here. Where have you been for so long, dear friend?”, Joe said quite apologetically.
“It’s a long story, Joe. I never wished to leave you all; still it was to happen and it happened when I was supposed to sleep for days and nights during winter—for us a long winter!”
“That must be a couple of years back when I had been enjoying my winter vacation. I had so much of fun with my parents while roaming around in Sikkim, laden in snow and fun. Was it not the winter you are talking about?”
“Yes, Joe! It was absolutely that season. It was a week hence since you had moved on your family trip and the moonlit X-Mas eve night had found me gently laid on a fragrant Basrai rose. I couldn’t feel sure whether I’d been awake or asleep, and my dreams seemed as real as were my realities. I fondly kept my wings folded and was felt to be smoothly swayed in gentle wintry breeze. Not afar, Christmas trees stood dazzled with tiny twinkling lights all over and a soft tune of holy air pervaded the world.
It was then I heard a sweet melodious tune—sweeter than anything I had ever listened to before—and while I gazed on, I could see a sleigh sliding down the way up from the hills. I had never seen him before but his smiling face—whatever little space it could hold uncovered within flourishing white beards—and a concerned call poured in enough vigour to let me rise up and see what was happening. I get awed in hearing so beautiful a song he sang….
…..In icy cold and wintry breeze
When all nice kids just shiver and freeze;
Here is Santa! Come, dear, come!
Brought these cakes, rich and warm.
With fun and love and wishing good
For your joyful dancing mood;
Here is Santa! Come, dear, come!
Take these gifts and share friends some.
I have only a day to roam
Till I return to my heavenly home;
Here is Santa! Here I go,
With lots of kisses and loving glow.
……And, I could not stay unmoved and sprang up and fluttered close to him. I stayed hypnotized over his sacred appearance and soon neared to find myself sitting on one of the railings of his toboggan.
He softly touched me and I could feel the warmth so full and comforting that it left me wondering what a bliss it would to be ever blessed with his eternal presence. I took no shame in saying so to him candidly and wished to roam around in his heavenly abode.
He looked at me, closely held me within his warm palms and whispered, “Minie, if you really want to go, I will surely take you there for a brief visit. But, you little dear, should love the place, feel peace, and shed all desires for own beauty and luxury. Will you and can you?”
I felt all shame in my soul for being so much boastful for what he meant, and soon my heart swelled in a strong sense of penitence for sins I had so long committed. I could realise that it all meant nothing in face of what sacredly peaceful and loving gesture of that great old man. Weeping I said, “Yes, I shed all. I love to be in peace, feel blessed with such heavenly bliss even for a moment, just to be back again here with a refined soul. Dear Holy man ! For me, no much time is left to live. I want to end it meaningfully. Please bless me so.”
He took me along. We rode miles on his sleigh. Deep imprints on ice it left looked like puzzling lines to the horizon. And, he took me there, the place up above in the sky, with twinkling stars so jolly and near. And, the air so refreshing in the paradise. The flowers I chose to sleep over had no sweet nectars to tempt, but had so relaxing taste that it quenched my thirst for long. They had no dazzling colours to get amazed; but its warm cosy embrace offered me the nicest dreams on my eyes in ease of my slumber. There was no cause to hurry, no pause to worry, none to remain unloved and none to envy.
When it was time to bid adieu, Santa kissed my temple and wished me a piece of gift. My old yet renewed soul did not crave for any, friend. I really did not wish to seek anything. His gentle voice then murmured, “Minie, say not “No” to what I like to give you. If you wish, give it to the finest soul you know down in the earth. This is not a gift but a true blessing of HIM.”
I had always missed you a lot and I had never known of any better soul than of my dear friend. I said, “Santa, I have a friend, Joe, who is as loving and caring as you are. I truly wish to carry such a divine gift for him, if you so bless me.”
Here is this tiny star for you, Joe. I wish you keep it on your pendant for ever. This ever shining little star of the Heaven will forever fill your soul with all holy feelings. This is what your friend, Minie, has brought for you, Joe. I have a very little time left now. Our life is not so long like humans. My journey will end soon. I wish you accept it and let me go. This will keep us together for ever, friend.”
Tears rolls down the cheeks of Joe. It is not for that Minie has brought one of the most precious gifts for him, but to witness how godly changes Minie has undergone with a sacred touch of Santa.
Joe, for the last time, holds Minie within his soft palms, loved her and gently rubbed her wings. Minie smilingly takes leave. She vanishes into smiling white clouds loosely hanging from the bright blue sky.
Joe finds himself alone again by his pet window, “little world”. The tiny star hangs on his pendant down from his long neck. He could see its shining face, and could feel Minie’s presence too. He feels presence of someone else—his mother, his God and an ever-pervading peace in soul.
Few repetitive calls of Brother Roberts rebounds inside Joe’s mind-lanes. “Yes, dear, it is now time for Lunch ! Come soon, Joe !”
Joe cannot discern whether he has so far been dreaming or not. But, his heart is so full of mirth and peace that he joins up others soon in the Dining Hall.
Some of his friends surrounds him and get so close to Joe that he can listen to the beats of their fast-running hearts. With awed eyes, one of them asks, “Joe, how sweet is the pendant with that twinkling star! Where have you got it?”
All queries remain answered within a gentle silent smile of Joe. Together they all smile…smile for ever…