And They Said


That “tis the season of giving, tis the season of cheer” with festive colours in all shades of crimson plunging the world into an arena of goodwill and happiness. They call it the “Christmas Fervour” with even nature abandoning it’s favourite colour green for the red in those dancing poinsettias sprouting all over the hillsides, the fall leaves, a brownish shade of red dropping from those frail branches relieving it of its yearly burden of the photosynthetic kind. Days are shorter, the nights longer with the heart beats pounding to the strains of the distant sounds of music, probably a choir in practise or maybe a carol singing troop in their nightly jaunts around the earth waiting for their own Santa Claus to appear in full red with new hopes and beginnings. As I get ready to kiss under the mistletoe, a story heard long ago comes alive in my thoughts and soul, so what if it was just another story written to wrench our hearts and teach the world the spirit of love which resounds more in giving than anything else, it always tugged those unseen strings of my heart even though it did so only during this season of cheer and mirth! 

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And they said that it happened only in stories and tales. That O’ Henry was a romantic fool lost in his labyrinth of romanticism creating Della and Jim – two love lorn people giving up everything that they possess to gift the other with something which that person values, a fool creating two other fools, this ain’t how it works in the real world with real people said everyone. The story is as simple as the plot and the people in it, Della the wife realises that she has just a dollar and eighty seven cents to buy a Christmas gift for Jim her husband. She then goes to the hairdresser round the corner who buys her beautiful tresses for twenty dollars with which she buys Jim a chain for his favourite pocket watch. Evening descends with Jim coming home bearing a gift for Della, two hair combs to adorn her lovely hair that she just sold to buy his gift, the watch chain. As Della hands over her gift to Jim only to realise that he sold his favourite watch to buy her gift! The spirit of loving and giving could never have been portrayed with such simplicity and aesthetics. The lump in my throat keeps appearing and reappearing each time I hear or read this story of love. But does this kinda love exist in reality? Maybe it does, maybe there are a few who love like Jim and Della, the rest of course are the likes of the hairdressers and the watch peddlers who keep the economies of the world alive while bartering inanimate objects that exemplify love in its giving and taking. 

And they said humanity like the love in the “Gift of the Magi” is a lost cause, it really is as true as the last leaf that falls of those lifeless branches in this season of cheer and festivities and which once again the foolish O’ Henry created another fool who perhaps would have lived longer if not for his tyrst with humanity – a lost cause as it’s called now.

And they said it was just another story told with the damned romantism of O’Henry, it was all about the leaf, the last leaf, the not so real leaf, the leaf which was not even a leaf, a leaf painted on the wall by an artist in the pneumonia enhancing cold to save another mind, another young life by giving up his own. It’s fiction, unreal, just a heart story woven around an unreal leaf, they said. The last leaf, the first time I read the story, I was still in my pinafores with which I had wiped my tears, understanding humanity for the first time. I never tried to understand it again, the last leaf though unreal, fully fictional stayed with me thereafter. I never read the story again but each fall when the leaves start to fall my heart waits for the last leaf to revive the feeling of “being human” but there is no painter left, no pneumonia enhancing days. The walls are bare, the last leaf is no longer unreal, humanity sleeps its deepest slumber and then again weeps the falling last leaf.

That the Christmas Cheer is not only about religion or faith and the son of God but it’s also about the love and humanity to the likes of the ones in O ‘ Henry’s mind is something that needs to be revived in the young minds…

And They Said…