Mathangi N.M., II Year B.A. English.
Seven years old, pointing to a picture of a big man clad in red, sporting a white beard and a bag over his shoulder, is stark in my memory. “Who is he?” I had asked my mother from my position on the floor. She grunted something – “Suntapause.” And thus, I spent a good chunk of my life believing that the man who delivered presents to little kids, was Suntapause.
I saw him everywhere while I grew up: he was there when I flipped pages on Tinkles, especially during the December editions; he was painted on cardboards that were put up at school and outside churches in the neighbourhood. He was there even in Narnia, when he gave presents to the four Pevensies.
But no, that was Santa Claus.
Imagine my astonishment and horror when I finally realised why people shot me puzzled looks and sometimes even sniggered when I piped up, “Suntapause shall bring me presents.”
But Santa is just one of the few aspects of Christmas that I, a girl born in a Hindu family in India, gets excited about.
First, there is the never ending line of Hollywood movies that one grows up watching, where the characters are so excited that it is Christmas and hence, you are too. Right from Kevin’s scheming in the Home Alone movies to the ghosts that visit Scrooge, Christmas always reminded me of laughter and coziness and the colour yellow. And not to mention that one episode of Mr. Bean’s Christmas that got me started on my fascination of decorating a Christmas tree. Hanging shiny little orbs and lights on green ferns is one of the most enjoyable tasks I have ever heard of.
But the most exciting thing about Christmas for me was to see a single shining star being hung out on front porches or balconies of Christian households. The sight of the star serves as a reminder that there would be Christmas music every time I turned on the television, or when I passed a church and heard beautiful singing or that there would be excitement wreathed into the faces of my Christian comrades who would jump and squeal, “Christmas is coming!”
In a country that boasts of major festivals every few months, Christmas stands out like the colour yellow in an artist’s palette. It pulses brightly and seems like it is perched on the threshold, handing hope to people right before they pass through the door to a new beginning. Even to a girl who is ignorant of most Christmas rituals, the day brings all the joy and warmth and not to mention truckloads of cookies and cake one could ask for.