The gift of giving

Jenny is elated that she has money to buy a guitar. Then, she decides there is another gift, more important, for a special someone. Who could it be?

December 19, 2022 02:35 pm | Updated 02:36 pm IST

Jenny happily counted the money she had saved, while heavenly smells of her mother’s special spicy cake, ginger wine, kal-kals, and more floated around. The Christmas tree and the crib with Baby Jesus were ready. It was time to celebrate and 12-year-old, happy-go-lucky, cricket-playing Jenny realised she could manage gifts for all. This Christmas, the money was important.

Jenny had wanted a guitar but her mother had been firm. “No Jenny, it’s expensive. We’ll see if you are serious; we don’t want you giving it up when you get bored.”

“You get these crazy enthusiasms, then get bored and give up. Remember the horrendous mouth organ practice? Karate kicks?” grinned her father. “We will get you a guitar, but you have to save for a part of it. Start with the school’s guitar lessons.” So, she had saved up, foregoing books and treats.

Change in plan

”Jenny!” called her father. “You have to go to Granny’s this afternoon. Amma can’t go, and neither can I.”

“Oh no! I can’t go today. Geeta, Shireen and I have planned something at Nafisa’s home..”

“I’m sorry, Jenny, but you have to go.”

“But appa,” she began but stopped when she saw her father’s face. She pushed back her plaits impatiently, as she walked to Granny’s, kicking a stone. But when she got there, she opened the door and called “Hello Granny!” cheerfully. Granny had been ill but though she had recovered, Jenny’s parents didn’t want her to be alone.

When she saw Granny’s smile, Jenny felt guilty. She normally enjoyed being there, chatting, watching TV, reading books, poking around, eating snacks ... but, not today. She would miss all the fun at Nafisa’s. Later, Granny said, “Jenny, what’s the matter ?”

“Nothing, honestly.”

Granny persisted, “You may have come in smiling but you are here instead of your mother. I am sure your plans have been changed, so tell me.”

“Nothing. We were meeting to pool ideas for the school party, and just hanging out.”

Eyes twinkling, Granny suggested, “Simple! Call them here. I’ll rest now. Later we’ll make coffee, and I have banana chips and murukku.”

When invited, the girls came, with a cake baked by Nafisa, and sandwiches made by Geeta and Shireen. There were jokes, laughter, ideas, teasing, and music. “Thank god we didn’t tell the boys. They only make stupid suggestions and laugh and tease,” muttered Geeta, whose twin was one of the boys.

At school, there was a royal battle between the girls and the boys. They had been divided into mixed groups to organise the school party. “You will work together,” Ms. Raman had said firmly. “I don’t like this silly feud that is going on. Imagine asking me to divide the class into ‘girls side’ and ‘boys side’.” So, the girls decided to meet and make their plans and then tell the boys about it.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang. “Now what?” wondered Jenny, as she went to open the door. There stood Gita’s twin, Aman, Sohrab and Tommy, all looking spruce and clean. “Shh... Granny is resting,” Jenny warned.

Aman said nonchalantly, “Ma said you were here, so, we decided to come.” They knew Granny, who lived in the building next to Jenny’s. “We’ve come to help plan the party,” announced Tommy. Suggestions flew, the girls responded to the olive branch and plans were made.

Impromptu party

Granny came out later and it became an impromptu party! Tommy and Sohrab were in the school choir, so Granny asked them to sing. Tommy said, “Granny, don’t move. I’ll get your coffee. Aman added, “ I’ll get the sandwiches,” because she couldn’t have fried snacks.

Granny smiled as she thanked them. As they chatted, all of them spoke about about their dream gifts, which they knew they wouldn’t get. They were all too expensive.

“Patti, what’s your dream gift?” they asked.

Granny, an avid stamp collector, laughed and said, “The new book... The History of World Stamps. Just like you, I know I won’t get my dream gift.”

That night, Jenny found a forgotten ₹200 note in a book. Thrilled, she shouted, “Amma! Appa!” and danced out, exclaiming, “I have almost enough for my guitar! Yay! ” But, later, when in bed, her face fell. She had thought of something. Should she? Or perhaps not? A day later, she knew she had to do what she’d thought of. Else she would always feel mean.

She spent her money on a gaily wrapped gift, ready to place under the Christmas tree. She wouldn’t have her guitar but Granny would have her book. Her eyes lit up, imagining the joy on Granny’s face.

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