‘Twas Christmas – A Short Story

‘Kiss it goodbye,’ mum says. ‘You’re unbelievable,’ I fume. She knows me. I love wallowing in my sorrows. I embrace them tighter than my skin clings to my body. I just cannot forget. And how do you forgive someone who wronged you? When they hurt you intentionally? Mum? She is brilliant at it. Always swearing a smile for those I feel should be deemed no less than enemies. But that word does not even exist in her dictionary.

‘Sometimes, you make me wonder if you’re my blood,’ she says. No, I am not hurt but the quick glance she gives me, she sure feels I am. Didn’t she tell me I am grown up enough to understand rational from sentimental? ‘You are so different,’ she concludes.  For good twenty minutes, we don’t look up but continue putting stars up the Christmas tree. Then she asks, ‘Tea?’ And without waiting for a reply, she escapes to the kitchen.

In the evening, she prepares to leave for the departmental store. I accompany her, a first. If she is surprised, she doesn’t show. I learn that mum doesn’t take the elevators. Explains her hurting knees. ‘Claustrophobia,’ she shields herself from my fury. We walk down the street together with comfortable silences enveloping us. At one point, the silence has grown to such a proportion, I fear it might explode.

Mrs. Berchman at the Halley’s Departmental Store is a nice woman. As always, she is excited to see mum. She immediately walks from behind the counter and helps mum get the things. I wonder if she does that with other customers too. Mum doesn’t seem to notice that I am left behind. I feel unwanted; jealous that the old lady has taken my place next to mother. The two of them emerge from a far-off aisle. Mum pays for the items and I am more than happy to leave.

Christmas extravaganza has taken over the square and is crawling up the buildings. The gigantic Christmas tree at the intersection is merrily draped in lights of myriad shades, making the tree appear larger than life. Foreigners relax on the benches circling the magnificent tree. I long to join the setting, wish to bask in the celebratory ambiance.

Mum too is absorbed in the grandeur. I tug at the hem of her dress but it isn’t enough to pull her out of her reverie. She is intently watching what my distracted eyes missed. I watch the scene unfold as a young man proposes to his woman at the feet of the tree. The shimmering lights from the tree lose their charm compared to the bright happy smile that has lit up the woman’s face.

‘What a  cute couple!’ I remark.  I look at mum and her moist eyes seem to me like a sea of surging emotions. Though she stands next to me, her voice seems strangely faraway. ‘Twas Christmas eve when I saw your father with her the first time. The square, the tree, everything dissolved around them and all that was left was that one image; your father and the other woman.’ She exhales heavily. ‘Twas Christmas and many christmases have come and gone since, but nothing could replace that memory.’

I reflect upon the unimaginable. Isn’t it amazing how just a few seconds hold in their fist a thousand pasts? Many Christmases will come and be gone, but this place now will only be about this revelation. The setting will replay the scene a hundred times; a scene  conjured but never witnessed. Nine years is a long time turned short when looked through the lens of a passing moment. Mum is transported to that day; I no longer recognise her. Her tears flow unhindered, unaffected by the place and its people.

I am embarrassed, then sad, suddenly strange shades of anger take over and I want to scream. I was caught off-guard. Unaware of what was coming. Certain things are better left in the graves of past. How could you unleash upon me what you kept hidden for so many years? How could you lie, mum? She is still rooted to that place, in that time. Waiting, watching. I take mum’s hand. ‘Kiss it goodbye, mum,’ I say.

A cool wind blows that numbs my troubled thoughts. Under the tree, the crowd applauds.


Hope you enjoyed the story. 🙂

Dear reader, Merry Christmas! 🎅🎄 🎁💕


© Asha Seth

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56 Replies to “‘Twas Christmas – A Short Story”

  1. Hi Asha, You do have an inimitable style of writing. Its easy to read and also moving. Do read my stories whenever you have the time. (Nupur & I is the latest. If you could also read “The Gift”) I’d love for you to critique them and let me know the areas for improvement. I have just begun to write. I really look forward to receiving feedback, not just footfalls on my blog and praise. Thanks and keep writing. I plan to read all your stories one by one 🙂


    1. Yes, it was. How was it for you, Anne? I have only just returned from a weekend getaway with mother. It was pure bliss to be away from the bustling city to a corner of peace.


      1. Sounds beautiful & much needed! I do love the countryside & woods for rejuvenation & refocus❤️🌲🍂🍃!! Ours was nice but busy for a bit. I do enjoy the memories though 😉. I have many more reading materials so I’m excited to start my New Year’s studies!! Have a very Happy New Year🎉!


  2. Sometimes, festivals that are meant to bring the merriment around, are the sole reasons for shading the lives darker of some.
    Enjoyed the story, Asha. Hope you are having a great time with all the gaieties around.🙂


    1. Thanks, Aditi. I did have a splendid time. It was a year like no other. And well, that’s also one of the reasons for the late reply. 😛 How have you been, dear?


      1. Happy for you, Asha. Hope 2018 bring more achievements in your personal life as well as professional endeavours.☺️
        I’ve been good. Replying after (almost) a month and, unfortunately, do not have much of a justification for it. Have been writing nothing from quite some time and that has its affect over everything, this delay as well. But you tell me how’s it going on with you? All good?☺️


        1. All well and fantastic. Life’s been amazing with me and I am glad I am at the barmy good end of it.
          Work keeps me on toes, but can’t imagine it any other way.
          As for the list of poems, my heart’s always with –
          Vikram Seth
          Try and grasp what they have to say. It totally depends upon taste. What one loves perhaps, is absolute gibberish to someone else.


  3. Touching emotional story with awesome words and phrases… I really loved it… People always think for good endings.. In my opinion good endings might be shade in few years but emotional endings will always be with us forever…
    Merry Christmas..


    1. I am happy to know we think alike. Life isn’t always sprinkled with happy endings. Heck! We hardly get to choose.
      Apologies for the late reply. Hope you’re well.


  4. WOW!! loved this… “Isn’t it amazing how just a few seconds hold in their fist a thousand pasts?”…this line it blew me .. It is so true, so deep, so meaningful and so simply phrased..
    Merry Christmas to you too! 🙂 ❤


      1. Oh I cant stop thinking about it.. Its jotted down so well!!!
        Says the most amazingly talented person 😛
        Yes everything is good! Also Happy New Year (i know its late but meh who cares) I hope things are going well with you!


“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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