As kids we have asked many questions for which we have never gotten a proper answer. Some of our questions were scoffed at and never answered, and for some we got make-believe answers which back then made sense to our docile minds that were still "Work In Progress".
When an elder relative passed away we were told "She did not leave us, she is in heaven talking to God and discussing about some big plans for you". We were at that age not molded in a way to digest the right answers, the answers given to us were what we liked to hear as kids, and sometimes the answers we got, fabricated into our minds and formed a perception that could not be erased, which unknowingly had gotten embedded in our psyche.
I recollect an instance when as a kid I had asked an older cousin of mine that question which we all may have thought out loud in our early years.
"Does Santa exist?" I asked my cousin as we were walking down the street.
"He used to in the old days... but now he is too tired, and he has retired" he said.
"Why?" I furthered my curiosity.
"Because times have changed and people have gone bad, we are fighting with each other, cheating each other so Santa feels we do not deserve his visits and his gifts" he said.
That answer has since then on stuck with me through my childhood years. As I grew up my perception of Santa had changed, he was just a guy out-of-work with a pillow tucked under his chest that made him look the part, and the trademark robe and fake white beard completing his character, as he roamed the malls "spreading" Christmas cheer and gifting gullible little kids chocolate, making them believe that he was Santa was for real.
But then, in the kind of world we live in we need a Santa Claus. You open the early morning papers sipping your hot cup of tea, and all you read are the news of soaring onion prices reading about which would leave you in tears, so forget about buying and skinning one. We are plagued with news of rampant corruption, WikiLeaks, rapes and murders, mud slinging between political parties, and celebrities belittling each other on talk shows that seem artificial and made for the snooty.
We switch on the T.V and we feel things are no different. We get the news but with soundbytes from loud news anchors who are on a war with rival news channels to get TRP. By the time we hit the bed we realize that we are surrounded by shallow people who are in a race to grab the headlines through shallow ways.We close our eyes thinking aloud "Where'd all the good people go?"
Ironically, we are surrounded with controversies in a holy month that marks the birth of God's son, but inspite of all these controversies we keep our spirits high by spreading warmth and joy through ways which make us believe that maybe there are a few good people around us. We are in search of Santa.
Nothing can makes us feel that Christmas is around the corner like a game of Secret Santa, a Christmas tradition where members of a group or a community are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift. It was a tradition I had scoffed at initially when I came to know that it would be celebrated at my work place.
"So are you gifting anything to your Secret Santa" someone asked.
"Why would I gift something to somebody whom I don't even know too well?" I said with a cynicism in my tone.
"You are such a grinch" another one retorded.
"Call me what you want, but I really don't get this game, I am too busy to get a gift for some random person whom I don't even know that well. And besides, I don't believe in Santa either" I reaffirmed my stance.
"Its the month of God, how self-centered can you get?"
"I got too much of work, and I am too busy to even entertain thoughts of shopping for some Tom, Dick or Harry"
It was that reply that I had got from my cousin as an 8-year old that had unknowingly settled down in the recesses of my mind. Over the years the ugliness of the world with all its hypocrisy, harshness, corruption, and partiality had only strengthened my belief that nothing good would ever come out of helping a random stranger. What is the point of smiling at a stranger when all you are going to get back is a stare that would question your sanity and decency? My thoughts were interrupted when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I looked around to see a guy, someone whom I haven't known too well except for his name, greet me with a warm smile on his face.
"Hey man" he said as he extended his hand to shake mine.
"I am your secret Santa dude, I wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year" he said as he gifted me a neatly wrapped box with his wishes written on it.
The next few minutes was a blur, it was a mixture of amazement and embarrassment as I felt all my theories of Santa's existence slowly crumbling as I shook his hand, and embraced him in an awkward hug.
"I..... jeez .....why man? I am just... I don't know what to say.... I feel so embarrassed... I mean you did not have to do this man..." I said ashamedly trying to force words out of my mouth.
"I just wanted to man, I always took this seriously whenever it was played. I hope you like my gift" he said.
"I am just too touched by the gesture.... Thanks man" I said with an overwhelming feeling running through my veins.
He gave me a warm smile that radiated a genuine joy in his face. "I'll see you around man" he said.
"Yeah... uhhh... bye" I said wishing that somebody gave me a shovel so that I could dig a hole and bury myself in it out of guilt.
As I got back to my seat I realized that Santa was not just a fictional character, a jolly good fellow residing in Northpole. Santa was not just restricted to be revered by Christians, Santa was a character to be looked upto by every man and woman. Santa was Human. He epitomized that primitive feeling of sharing which today is lost under the dark clouds of corruption and thievery. We all are in search of Santa, we all dream of meeting him and shaking his hands and to get a taste of his bear hug and his benevolent heart, because he represents that forgotten ilk of people who believe in the joy of giving and ask nothing for it in return. I realized that I had just found my Santa.
We do not have to travel to the Northpole in search of him, all we have to do is to look within ourselves. For we all have a Santa residing within us. It could be you, or it could be the person sitting next to you. All we got to do is to bring a smile to a stranger's face by gifting them with something whose value cannot be measured - Joy.
Wishing you a merry Christmas, and a very happy new year.
Ho! Ho! Ho!