Much to Piklu’s wishes, he had to voluntarily hand over the dragonfly to John as the final bribe. In search of the fiery red dragonfly, both had crawled under the bush. But John is a chubby boy. He never could fold his legs without bursting his pants. It’s lithe Piklu who always is bang on the target.
Piklu likes to consider himself the hawk of a sheikh that he once saw in his father’s magazines. Once a dove is in sight, the sheikh frees the hawk and it always manages to catch the dove, he was told. Ever since that day, he has turned into a hawk and the dragonflies – mere doves. Oh boy! What a terrible hawk he has been ever since!
But this dove was different. The hawk had to toil real hard, had to fly through dangerous cracks and caverns of terrible mythical lands – in this case, the dark alleyway behind their school – just not to lose the sight of this fiery red dove.
The dragonfly finally went and rested under the bush, which is infamous for dangerous creatures like earthworms. You can spot those dangerous creepy baby snake-lookalikes from the school window.
Nobody can blame John as courageous and naughty. He is a good boy, as his teachers put it. It’s always Piklu who is at the receiving end. Strangely, it’s always Piklu, who gets the most attention in the class.
Such was the call of the dragonfly that both the adventurers forgot everything and chased it all the way to the dark alleyway. They had to slip through the narrow broken school fence to come this side. But when the dragonfly hid itself in the bush, Piklu had the advantage. John was almost heartbroken. This is unfair, he thought.
When Piklu actually came out of the bush wearing a triumphant smile, John could not hide his jealousy.
It was no big deal for him, but of course a hard-owned battle. So Piklu was a little disappointed in having handing over his prized possession to John.
But John paid a good price too. In condition of keeping the secret to him only, he told Piklu the art of getting gifts from Santa!
Every year, John has received gifts, whatever he wanted from Santa. His parents, usually his father, helped him prepare the list in advance. It’s a week-long ceremony for John every year. Lists are made and quickly tore down. New plans are chalked out and budgets were also considered. Santa has other kids to give too. John should not ask for more, his father had told him.
And at the Christmas day, John was always there hosting a gala party. His friends can do nothing but wonder at Santa’s magnanimity. And John never for once told the secret to anybody. Even not to Piklu, despite him being his good friend.
But John divulged the secret this Christmas.
Piklu almost ran home in a trance. It’s long that their parents didn’t buy them anything. It’s long they didn’t receive a toy. And piklu has an eye for the wooden gun he has seen at the Wilmer’s Toy Shop at the marketplace. He wants it at any cost. That’s the finest gun a man has seen in his life!
Piklu’s elder sister was back home by that time. Anyway, it was the winter holiday season. Today was the last day of the school. There will be no classes for the next one month. It’s a gala celebration! His stupid sister was wearing that stupid frock of her’s in which she looks exactly like a stupid. How he hates talking with her when she wears that drum-like frock of hers. But she knows how to write and today is 24th December!
They had already managed to gather the stockings, the clean ones, cause Santa doesn’t like dirty stockings … his beard gets dirty. Character by character his sister created a long list. She had to write and rub many times because never in her life she has written this much and she were struggling to keep her handwriting as tidy as possible.
Piklu’s eyes were sparkling when each word was getting written on the list. One word means one gift! Assured! How can he not rejoice?
Looking his didi concentrate, he could not help but appreciate his elder sister. Nobody can write English as she does. Sigh … Piklu will not be able to write ever. He could not even write the numbers in Bengali properly. He always gets stuck at the juncture where two similar letters stand. The M before N or the N before M? That is worth a mystery to solve. Whereas his didi didn’t have to think twice.
So the list was drawn and inspected upon. Piklu’s due approval was taken. Both didi and Piklu signed. He might not know how to write ABCD upto Z properly. But he has an impressive signature nevertheless.
The final list, after two hours of hard work, stood as following:
for piklu from WIMAR (oposeat cake sop):
DOLL – GOOD LIKE SAHELI DOLL
KEYCHEN – SET LIKE PRIANKA
JEWEL – LIKE ANTY
LOGENS – 1 PAKAT FUL FOR FRENDS
They both signed the list and decided there should be a note left to Santa to consider them first before he goes to John’s place. Incase, the stock is in limited supply. They were not very sure which way Santa comes from. So they marked all the lampposts with arrows pointing towards their house and left more arrows on the road. Now, wherever Santa comes from, he was sure to knock at their door first.
To draw Santa’s favour, they also planned a clever idea! Which is nothing but the truth. Their father has lost his job due to the factory closure and since then, he has stopped loving them. He doesn’t also shave like before and gets irritated at the drop of a hat.
No question of asking toys from him.
It was Tuli’s plan. She left a note with the list, the note at the top and the list next, so that Santa sees it first and give them all that they want. With her new honed mastery at English, confident, she wrote: FADER NO JOB. NO TOY. BEAT US. HE SAD. I SAD. I WANT TOY. HIRE LIST:
As instructed by John, they carefully put the stockings just above their head and waited anxiously till Santa comes. They wanted to see him. John said he comes exactly at 12 at his place. Their house is about 5 minutes walk from John’s house. So either Santa will come here when the long hand will be in 11 and the small hand will in 12 or when the small hand will be in 12 and the long hand will be in 1. Piklu could not help but marvel at his sister’s genius!
It was a cold cold night. Like Santa’s white beard, a white fog was engulfing the whole world. The blanket was warm and cosy. The distant lamppost’s light was getting dimmer and dimmer. And soon they were coiled at a corner, hugging each other like old chums and breathing on each others’ face – fast asleep.
(to be continued …)