|THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT
‘We are starting at 6.15, take a cab and be here on time’. I told my wife over the telephone.
It was 23rd of December last year. My office had organized a Christmas party for the staff members & their families and it was due to start in the evening and among other things a musical show, Christmas carols and distributing presents to the staff member’s children-below 12 years of age had been organized.
After office I went to the edge of the office building with Nimal, one of the colleagues and watched the beach. I was working in a Colombo beachfront office and from there you could have a spectacular scene of the beach and the Colombo harbor. The sun was setting against the cloudless sky and there were about 200 ships docked in the harbor that day.
‘Here they come!’ exclaimed Nimal. Yes, my family and his were there.
‘Hi, Dad!’ Lahiru, my son of seven years of age waved at me. Demy, my wife was holding our only daughter, Marlene. They both waved at me and within three minutes I was with them.Nimal’s family also joined us and we all hurried to the Office auditorium for the Grand show.
First there was a carol service with the Navy band playing music and our staff members singing. After that show various events took place. Finally a tea party and distributing presents for the children began.
The following day, Wednesday was the Christmas Eve and I came home early as we expected my brother’s family and some friends for dinner.
‘Look what I got as my present yesterday, Dada’ Lahiru showed me beaming with a smile. It was a flying saucer. An imported one with three colors-brown handle, yellow color saucer and white string to pull it. He played with me for some time and took it to play with Aruna, the next door neighbor’s boy of his age.
‘Lahiru, come home at once!’ Demy called him.
‘But darling, they are only playing’ I told her.
‘We should not associate them, Rufus’ she told me.
‘Any way they are still kids…’
‘Yes, but I don’t like the parents, the fishermen….’
‘Lahiru, I told you to come home soon!’ again she shouted.
I saw my son’s smile disappear as he walked home waving to his friend.
Soon his mood lifted as my brother, Amal and family came for dinner. Batti, his only child, was four years of age and together they started playing with Marlene. We had a good time with them having drinks, dinner and watching Carols on TV …
It was past two am when we returned from the church and everyone went to sleep straightaway.
On Christmas morning I saw Lahiru playing his Saucer with Batti in the front lawn. I saw Aruna watching them on the other side of the fence with a sad expression.
‘Lahiru, show uncle Amal what you got for Xmas’ I asked him.
‘What is it son?’Amal wanted to know.
‘A flying saucer ‘It was Marlene answering for him.
Lahiru went to his room and never returned and soon we forgot about that incident.
After lunch my brother and family left to go for Christmas visiting. We went to visit my other relations staying about 20 kilometers south of Colombo. After that we visited 03 more families and it was around 11 pm when we got home and straight I went to bed.
On the following day I was on leave. While we were expecting some of the office crowd for lunch, I saw Lahiru playing cricket with Marlene.
‘Don’t play in the street, there are speeding vehicles there’ Demy warned them.
Now, where is his flying saucer? I wondered. My office friends came and we had a good time together and left around four pm and I asked Lahiru, ‘Now son, where is your flying saucer?’
He was silent.
“Rufus, there is a call for you’ Demy called me from the sitting hall and I went to answer it. It was some relatives staying far away wishing me a happy Christmas.
‘Get ready to go to grandpa’s’ I told them as I went to take a bath.
That evening my cousin Anil visited us. It was around seven pm and while we served them with drinks and cakes, suddenly I saw something moving across the front yard. I went to the gate and saw that it was what Lahiru got as his present, the flying saucer!
I wondered where it had come from. Who flew it? It was getting dark and I could not see anyone around.
“Come here Lahiru” I asked him.
‘Where is your flying saucer?’
‘I gave it to Aruna’. The next door friend of his.
‘Why did you give it away? Don’t you like it?”
‘I like it but he likes it more than me. And he said their parents do not have enough money to buy a present like that and I gave it to him as a present. Yesterday at mass, father, in his sermon told everyone to give away presents at Christmas and that is what Jesus wants?’
Suddenly out of the corner of my eyes I saw my wife come and listening.
And she was speechless.
A tear dropped from her eye to the ground.