Sunday, April 29, 2007

Santa Claus: Myth or Reality?

Four months ago, on Christmas Day, I reached Bangalore for a short, but much-needed vacation. After the initial gleeful welcoming screams of my ten-year-old niece, Meghna and my five-year-old nephew, Akash, I learnt eventually that they were a wee-bit upset. The reason? Santa Claus hadn’t visited them that day. One probable reason, according to both the kids, was that Santa Claus had visited them at the stroke of midnight at their residence, but since they had been away until Christmas morning, Santa hadn’t found them and had hence decided against giving them gifts that year.

The reality, of course, was that my brother-in-law hadn’t been able to pick anything up for them in good time, since he, my sister and the kids had themselves been out of town,vacationing, until they had returned to Bangalore that morning. Sensing the kids’ disappointment and knowing that buying them something before the day ended was imperative, he left the house on the pretext of finishing some errands, returned in some time with the gifts, and hid them in the kids’ room.

A little later, Meghna squealed in delight- she had chanced upon the gift-wrapped parcels. “Santa DID give us our gifts after all!!!!” she shouted. (I have to mention, at this point, my brother-in-law’s feigned expression of surprise. One would have thought he believed in Santa Claus himself!) Anyway, the brother-and-sister duo then eagerly sat down to open their gifts. And I witnessed all this- a silent, much-amused spectator.

Initially, I must confess, I had found it all a little stupid…considering that I had learnt about the non-existence of Santa Claus when I was just a little older than Akash. But in hindsight, I realise the value of that one blind belief, and of the immense happiness that it carries. All year round, children long for that one occasion when they can bank on the red-robed, white-bearded jolly Grandfather-figure to grant them their most heartfelt wish. Someone they have never really seen or even heard. And even someday we learn that Santa Claus is but a fictitious figure, don’t we all wish to believe in someone, in some Santa-Claus-equivalent, who will grant us our wishes? All our lives? And I realize why this happens…it happens because no matter where we are, no matter how old we get, and no matter how many ups and downs we experience in life, we never, ever, cease to have wishes. The wish may be small, for example, craving a tiny bar of chocolate, or it may be big- a house, for instance. Or it may be neither…maybe just a tiny power nap, or a holiday, or the glimpse of a loved one, or of the touch of your beloved…whatever the wishes may be, they are there. And they are inevitable. Can we remember a single day when we haven’t wished for anything?

Sometimes, if we are lucky, we come across our own version of a Santa Claus, and our wishes are granted. However, more often than not, they do not transform into reality…they remain what they began as. Wishes. Plain and simple, genuine and heartfelt, Wishes. And we feel a little, just a little, a teensy bit dejected. But then, what would life have been, without wishes, both fulfilled and unfulfilled? We think life is reality. But, in reality, is it any more than one big wish? And, let’s face it; at the end of the day, don’t we all crave to believe, just once more, in someone like Santa Claus?