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Santa stumped

Hang on Santa, I shan’t lead away the sled till you’ve piled it full.”

“Then Rudolph, tell those other skittish reindeer to stop jingling the sleigh bells.”


Illustration / Amit Bandre

“Sure. Calm down Comet, Cupid. And guys, because you’re called Dasher, Dancer, Prancer doesn’t mean you can’t stand still for a bit longer. Yeah, agreed. It’s already the 22nd of December, late for our old chum here to yet be ticking children’s lists. ”

“Heard that. Yes, I’m slow these recent years. Stumped, I say.”

“Why so foxed?”

“Because nothing’s what it used to be. All those lovely storybooks they’d pray for? Today they keep pestering for some stuff called Paperwhite 3G.”

“Kindle. Kinda cool. You gave those last year as well.”

“Huh, really?”

“Yup. Times change. Move with them. Up in heaven you’re frozen thinking books just mean print on paper. Kids below on earth are plugged into an electronic age.”

“It’s also electronic music alone they seem to want. I can’t understand…”

“You’re not meant to. You grant the wishes. Be done with it. Load the sled.”

“My job always was to load. I only want to load. But with much of this upload and download of music and movies going on, what am I left to plain load anymore?”

“C’mon Santa. Tear up those lists. How does it matter who’s naughty, who’s nice — give ’em all something small and let’s leave.”

“Oh no, Rudy. I’m Father Christmas. I’m expected to gift good girls and boys treats they ask. Give as they must get.”

“If you’re so exacting you’re gonna hurt. Don’t do as they demand and you’ll be history, the forgotten legend of St Nicholas. Kids will stop believing in you.”

“They’ve stopped believing in everything anyway. In magic, in manners, in…”

“Ok ok, got the idea.”

“They can even all be me, you know? New-fangled rubbish of Surprise Santas.”

“That’s fun. Now, what’s the next address you have?”

“Ah, as confusing. Have you noticed how there are too many different houses for our regular little listers this year? I must make a note.”

“People shift, Santa. It’s only you and us reindeer stuck at the same Pole forever.”

“No no, not that kind of shift. See — a stack of presents from a divorced dad marked to reach his daughter in her mother’s new husband’s home. And here’s this child living across the city because he and his mum had to leave.”

“Grow up Santa. You’re the only one who hasn’t. We could talk about this forever but shouldn’t. Hold it, Donner. Go easy, Vixen and Blitzen.”

“It’s ready steady go then Rudolph?”

“You bet my red nose it is. Off we ride, quickly. Heigh ho Father Christmas, hop into the snow cart.”

“Cart? Oh, cart. The illiterates spell it with a ‘k’ these days. When they send wish mails to... umm... Flipkart.”

Meher Marfatia is the author of 10 books for children and two for parents. She has mothered her own kids well past the terrible twos and almost past the

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