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Updated: December 19, 2011 15:18 IST

Desi Santa-ji spreads cheer

SELINE AUGUSTINE
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Here's a collection of short stories to set you in the right mood for Christmas.

The book is apt reading for the holidays, Christmas hols. As the title bears out, all the stories centre on the Christian festival — most of them revolve around, no prizes for guessing, Signeur Santa Claus.

The book published by Scholastic opens with “Saleem on earth”, a lovely little story by Mridula Koshy. Saleem is a 10-year-old Muslim-Christian and his first trip from Delhi to Kerala with his parents is dotted with childish pranks by his country cousins which ring so very true. The little nuggets of wisdom, humour and gentle swipes at pretence enrich the storyline. The title of the story, Saleem means peace, is the crowning glory.

Kuzhali Manickavel's imaginative story is about how the Great Stone Calendar in Town Square stayed put on Christmas eve. The townspeople had to perpetually be in the festive mood for years until Juniper Parsnip dares to give the custom the go-by. She is promptly hauled up to the open court but when the crowd roared, cracks began appearing on the stone calendar. When everyone joined in singing the Christmas wish, the page turned to October 2! Thus came to an end the Everyday Christmas Eve celebrations, for even celebrations can pall.

Rohini's Christmas stocking held a car load of presents! Board games, three new books, 12 volumes of Encyclopaedia, why even a bicycle! Was the magic to do with Granddad knitting the stocking in the first place? Ha, now that would be telling. The best part was one of the presents was a new Larry Butter book, which was yet to see the light of day — shades of Potter mania! At the end of the tale, Aishwarya Subramanian the author, has a left a thread or two loose with Ro left holding the baby with er, stolen goods, for Christmas presents!

“Inappropriate Christmas behaviour” lives up to its name and is not really a children's story.

“The Santa Question” by Payal Dhar is modern and delightful. Santa is a lady who slurps on orange juice and golfs down jam sandwich as she's lactose-intolerant, can hear what kids think, is invisible to adults, gives gifts which are intangible, she's oh-so cool. The light vein is a bonus.

In Tanya Agarwal's “Santa lands in Punjab” is replete with all desi elements, Santa-ji in blaring red synthetic kurta and that wrap-around fabric called lungi! A whiff of pickle and his face matched the kurta colour! Sweetie the little Punjabi girl teaches Santa-ji to make hay dolls and other ‘down-to-earth' toys.

CHRISTMAS STORIES, Scholastic. Price Rs 150

Joy and I clutched at each other in terror as the owner of the red buttocks squeezed out from under the bed. It turned, saw us and went: “Whoops, you're not supposed to see me!”

……

Who are you?, I asked, annoyed to find my voice shaking. The woman blinked at us. Even though it was dark in the room except for the nightlight, I could see her well. She had light greenish eyes. “What are you? Stupid?, she said sharply. “How many people break into your house on Christmas eve?”

Joy and I looked at each other. Could it…nah.

“The name's Claus. Santa Claus”.

Around the world in 80 pages is a newspaper-based treasure hunt that takes you back to meet people, places plus anything else you encountered in the last five issues of the Young World (5X16 pages... »


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