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In My Parents’ Arms

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“Festival connects you to your culture, roots and your family…all over again.”

 

I read this on a bookmark in the Hallmark greetings gallery, where I was busy buying cards and gifts to send to my parents and siblings. I was residing in London where I’d come to do my MBA, and as luck would have it, I was offered a great job soon after.

 

Christmas was only three weeks away and for the past three years, I’d been celebrating it with friends, away from home. Of course they were fun; drinks, partying and a night filled with music.

 

But I don’t know why, after reading the quote on the bookmark, mom’s soft plea echoed in my ears. Last time, when I called her, she’d asked me very motherly,

“Mathew, baby, when are you coming home? No happiness is the same without you.”

 

Emotions clogged my throat and tears welled up in my eyes, as I recollected the fun and frolic I used to have with my family, especially during festivals. I’m an only brother among three sisters. Easters we used to compete who would make the biggest easter egg and break it too. Christmas I used to help dad dress up. I chuckled thinking how he still can’t wear a tie on his own. My sisters never let me decorate the Christmas tree, they said, “Matt, don’t you dare touch our tree! You are better off helping mom bake cakes and cookies. Go put on an apron.”

 

I have loads of cousins and on Christmas our bungalow was literally a madhouse, resonating with music and laughter.

 

I left the store with a bag full of gifts and a determination in my heart.

 

* * * * * *

 

I rang the bell and waited in anticipation. It was a midnight flight and by the time I reached home, it was 4 in the morning. Christmas was only two days away. I hadn’t told anyone that I was coming and was dying to see the expressions on their sleepy faces.

 

The light in the corridor came to life and I could hear the commotion of chatter coming from inside.

“Moses, be careful. Who could it be at this hour?”

“Mary, only if I go till the door will I come to know. Stop panicking!”

My heart was dancing in my chest and I curbed my grin.

I heard dad gasp. I’m sure he saw me through the eyehole.

“Moses you’re scaring me, who is it?” He didn’t reply. He simply flung the door open and pulled me in a big bear hug.

“Ahh…Mathew!!!!”

Mom grabbed me from dad’s arms and embraced me tight. She’s a strong woman for her age. They were both crying and smiling in tandem.

 

I had come, because I was missing my family and wanted to celebrate the festival with them. That night I realised what a big hole I had in my successful life away from home. Christmas was two days away. But for us, celebrations began the moment I was in my parents’ arms.

 

Shamim Merchant

 

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