Written By Navoneel Sen (Grade 11)
“Your breakfast is ready, Mr. Daniel,” said Georgina, the housemaid. Francis Jaden Daniel, OBE, the head of the biggest firm Hylett’s and Co., was a multi-millionaire. His schedule was as mundane as ever. Daniel never loved his wealth and donated most of it to charity. Well, that was before a woman named Lydia Hischel came to his life, with the intention of marrying the fortune. Daniel could never cross Lydia, who always spends his money on her own luxuries, caring very little about the outside world. Whenever Daniel tries to take his credit card away from Lydia, the tantrums and howling would never end. In order to stop her tantrums, he finally gives in. By now, he had given up hope on his wife. The only reason he didn’t divorce her was because of their daughter. Lydia never cared about her daughter. Divorcing would mean taking care of his business and his daughter, making the situation worse. He wanted God to show his face (as He was his last hope), and he would be purified.
“Thank you, Georgina”, said Daniel. As Georgina was about to leave Daniel said, “Um…Georgina, could you make something more simple tomorrow? Like bread and butter?”. “But Mistress would not approve of it, sir,” replied Georgina. “Oh yeah.”, said Daniel gloomily. He ate up one of his cinnamon brioche French toast skewers. It didn’t feel good. It tasted like extremely strong coffee. Then came down Lydia, trotting. “Where’s my breakfast, slave?”. Another strong remark about Lydia was that she always disrespected their servants to an extreme level. Daniel shouted this time, “LYDIA, WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU?”. Lydia said with a haughty attitude, “It’s their profession, I am just remarking. Hmph! And yes, you, don’t get to touch me! Just keep the food quickly and get out of my sight.”. An embarrassed Georgina quickly put the food in her plate and escaped. Daniel suspected there were tears in her eyes. “Lydia, He will never forgive you.” “WHO IS HE? IS HE YOUR FRIEND? WHY DO I CARE? THEY ARE NOT EVEN HUMANS, THEY ARE POOR LITTLE MOSQUITOES FROM THE GUTTER?”. “IF IT IS SO, WHY DO YOU NEED THEM? WHY NOT DO IT YOURSELF?”. Lydia again said with a haughty air, “These hands were molded for shopping, not for touching filth. Where is Maxine?”. As if in answer to her question, Maxine came in crying. She had scratched her knee, while climbing down. “Max, what happened, are you okay?”, Daniel asked his daughter. Lydia snapped, “Oh, stop it, it is just a scratch. Maxine, STOP WHINING!”. Max struggled to keep herself quiet. Daniel said, “You are upsetting Him.”. Lydia slammed so hard that the chocolate pancake flew apart. “SHOW GOD! SHOW ‘HIM’!”. Daniel said coolly, “One day you will see Him! That day will come!”. The rest of the breakfast went quite peacefully, except for Lydia’s muttering.
It was Christmas. The time of joy and happiness. And of course, who can forget the fat old man, dressed in red, with white cotton and a cloud-white beard, with a leather belt tightened around the waist, and a sack of lovely gifts meant for all good children-of course Santa. Little Maxine always received gifts from Santa (her dad). The gifts were simple – maybe a small doll or a pair of scissors for cutting or even a colouring book. Max was always happy with these gifts. But Lydia, like always, didn’t care about her daughter, and whenever she sees her gifts, she throws them away. Daniel knows about this and this time said to Max to hide her gifts from mummy.
“This year’s Christmas is got to be special, unlike before”, thought Daniel. He won’t let Lydia hurt Max this time. Daniel parked his car near the asphalt garage of the supermarket to buy some dolls and some toy kits for Max. He entered the mall.
“Good evenin’ Mr. Daniel.”, said Chopper, the security guard. Daniel and Chopper knew each other very well, as Mr. Daniel was a frequent visitor to the supermarket.
“Mr. Daniel wha’ will ye hav dis grea’ even’? Chri’ma’ gif’s?”.
“Tell ya wha’, Mr. Daniel, t’day ye nee’ no’ buy gif’s fe’ Chri’ma’, ruma’ ha’ it San’a Clau’ gon’ arriv'”
“Ah, but it’s only a rumor isn’t it?”, Daniel chuckled.
“Anyways, how’s fami’y?”
“Still the same. Lydia is throwing tantrums.”
“But she’s a goo’ hu’man, isn’t she?”.
“Yah, possibly. Anyways gotta get some gifts. You haven’t confirmed it have you, Chopper?” Chopper looked astounded and kept glaring at Mr. Daniel until he passed over to the counter. Then he muttered to himself, “These filthy rich peep’ul- they don’ listen to you!”
Daniel paid the cash and entered his car with the gifts. The gifts were small statuettes of gnomes, and some color pencils and a very expensive pen drive in a stocking. He started the car. It was a brand-new black Lincoln. Of course, it was Lydia’s choice. Lydia was probably making her ‘slaves’ work, and giving her drinks and meringues. He drove on. Suddenly, he felt the need to urinate. He stopped unwittingly at a no-parking spot, and went inside the public toilet. It was empty. After urinating, he came back to find a policeman in blue.
“I’m very sorry sir, I really needed to-“.
“Naw, do I care?”
“Can’t you spare a ticket for Christmas?”
“It’s Christmas Eve, by the way. Now that’s a cheek, but if you can trade that stocking to me, I would be grateful.”
“HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S IN THERE?”
“It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it, you filthy, spoilt brat! Always carrying expensive things in a stocking. Look, I don’t care what have you got in there, for whom you have got it, but either you give me that stocking or a ticket issued triple the price. Choose wisely, rich man.”
“Do you have a family?”
“No of course not! Who wants a family? Christmas is for getting gifts, isn’t it?”
“Christmas is for sharing, officer.”
“AND I WANT YOU TO SHARE THAT STOCKING, RIGHT NOW. Either way, you will. If you don’t give it to me kindly, you will pay triple the price and the stocking. I will get the stocking.”
“You are a policeman with a thief’s mind. You are a hypocrite.”
“I don’t care who I am, I just want that stuff. Give it kindly, or you’ll learn the hard way.”
Daniel never felt this angry and this statement was the final oil in his fiery mind. Without thinking, Daniel pushed the policeman, and the policeman fell in an instant. Without wasting time, Daniel jumped in his car, but the policeman held his leg and this time he had a knife in his hand. “GIVE IT TO ME, YOU SHOW OFF. YOU SCOUNDREL, PIECE OF SWINE!”. Daniel started the car and shifted the gear, and it started moving. The policeman’s grip broke off immediately, and in a fraction of a second, Daniel pulled his leg inside, and moved off, not before he heard a screech. But it was no time to see, he drove off as fast as he can. The policeman shouted before him, “YOU’LL PAY, SWINE! YOU’LL PAY! MARK MY WORDS!”.
Daniel finally reached his house, and got down. He saw there was a scratch that was clearly a knife mark on his brand-new Lincoln. The policeman did it. Daniel swore loudly. So loudly, that Lydia came down rushing and for the first time showed concern.
“Francis, Francis, is everything okay?”
“SEE FOR YOURSELF.” Daniel told Lydia about the incident with the policeman and showed her the scratch.
Lydia said, “THAT HORRENDOUS CUR! WHEN I MEET HIM!”
“It’s no use, Lydia. We have to buy a new car.”
“Yes, we will buy during the New Year. But now come and rest.”
Daniel entered the room and was shocked to see beneath the Christmas tree. There were gifts. Huge gifts. Who sent them? Lydia, not understanding, said, “I’ll get the slaves to make you a drink.” Usually, Daniel shouted but this time he paid no attention to Lydia. Lydia went away.
Daniel took a book from the shelf. He started to read. He did not notice June put a glass of red wine on the table. His eyes started drooling, and he slept. He did not know when he woke up, but when he did, he gasped. There was a sudden burst of cold air. It was like a blizzard. He got up with the book in hand. The glass was trembling, and the wine was shaking. It was wobbling very hard. Then he noticed something spinning. He looked at the center of the dining room. The circle was enlarging. The vortex grew. All the snow particles seemed to blend in the vortex. He gasped again. The furniture started to tremble. He suddenly called, “LYDIA! JUNE! GEORGINA! LUTHER! WHEREVER YOU ARE, COME QUICKLY. ALL OF YOU!”. The house butler, Luther came first, and he was about to say something when he saw the vortex. “Jeremy-Bearemy”, he muttered. The other maids and servants joined quickly, and so did Lydia and Max, who came in rushing. Lydia screamed, “WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?”. Suddenly a golden radiance filled the room and the vortex seemed to turn gold. Then came a silhouette of a man wearing a hat with a ball at the end, with an outline of a bushy beard and with a great hand, a huge hand. Then something strange happened. All those gifts beneath the Christmas tree started erupting. And instead of materials, came out tiny, silvery wisps of dust, that circled in a tornado and started to spread towards the whole room. The whole room felt chillier. Suddenly everyone felt warm, and Daniel smiled. So did Max. So did the whole audience (except Lydia who instead maintained a stern expression). Suddenly the silhouette snapped and an intense voice spoke, that felt so tender, so poignant, and so evocative, that it shook the hearts of the whole house. The voice uttered only four words, “SPREAD LOVE, NOT ARTEFACTS.” Then the silhouette started broadening, and suddenly shone the face of a man in a red cap with a ball, with a cloud white bushy beard, and a beefy moustache, yet kind face. The vision lasted for only three minutes. Then it slowly started fading away back into the vortex, which seemed to slow down. It slowed down indeed. The atmosphere turned normal. The furniture stopped rattling, and beneath the Christmas tree were bursted packages. There was, all of a sudden, an eldritch, yet reassuring silence. Max broke the silence, after a few minutes, and said, “So, that was Santa?”. Daniel replied, without turning his head, yet in a cheerful manner,” No, that was God. That was the face of God.”
The next morning, everything was cheerful. Lydia asked for a normal breakfast: bread and butter. Daniel seemed very happy, and so was Max. All of them for the first time, ate happily and together. When Georgina came down, Lydia cheerfully asked her, “Do you want some bread? I think you need it. How about, from the next day, I start working with you, and helping your family with my husband.” Georgina was speechless, “Mistress, I don’t know what to say-“. Lydia cut her off with a surprising hug, which was extremely genuine. Max laughed. Daniel smiled again. Lydia broke off and said, “So, let’s make lunch together.” She was about to walk away with Georgina, when she suddenly said to Daniel, “Francis, I think we should start a donation camp for all the needy people. I really feel them. They need help. We can change their lives, can’t we?”. Daniel smiled. Lydia understood and walked with Georgina, with a big smile on her face. Daniel got up and told Max, “Well then, behave yourself. From now on, both Mummy and I will take care of you.” Then, with a huge smile on his face, he got up from the table (finishing his toast), picked up his case, and left the house for another tiring, yet cheerful office day.
Featured Image Courtesy – Forbes