25th December 2004
The first rays of dawn kissed Mika's tender cheeks as she lay curled up in her blanket. She dismissively pulled the blanket over her head. A subtle tinkling sound penetrated through the darkness under the blanket. Although half asleep, it roused her curiosity; she tried to dismiss it as a dream but somehow it kept continuing. She flung open the blanket and sat up straight in bed. The sound seemed to continue. Strangely enough, it seemed to be coming from her computer which she had left on screensaver overnight. But the screensaver running on it was not the one she had set. It was a beautiful house bathed in snow. Little snowflakes were dropping all over the screen. In the centre of the screen, in shiny carpet red, were the words "Merry Christmas". She then realized it was the start of her Christmas hols and what a way to start than to get up to mysteriously see this greeting on her screen.
She gently gathered the curls falling all over her face with her hands and made a loose knot of them at the back. Her blue eyes twinkling with curiosity, she got up from bed and walked over to the computer. She pulled up a chair and blinked at the monitor. At her touch, the screensaver disappeared leaving her staring at her desktop wallpaper. But something caught her attention. It was a small blinking star in her "system tray" to the bottom right of the screen. It seemed so unreal to her, "who had done all this in surprise for her?" Her father was not in town so it couldn't have been him. Had he returned sooner than expected as a surprise or was it her one of her brother's tricks or her mother? She moved the mouse over the blinking star and clicked it.
Mika's mother was cooking a sumptuous breakfast of omlette, bread and butter. The Christmas cake was getting ready in the oven. The aroma was turning heads out in the street. She heard Mika coming down the stairs.
"Hi Mika, Happy Christmas dear, it is a wonderful day today"
"Yes Mama, it is"
Her mother turned around to see her. Mika was dressed in a light pink skirt.
"Wow, you look lovely dear. Fully ready at 7'O clock in the morning! Any new resolutions you have taken?", her mother asked jokingly.
"No, nothing of that sort ... err.. Mama..."
"Can I go over to the beach for sometime?"
"Well, sure. Go on. I am a bit busy with the kitchen chores right now. You go ahead."
"Great, thanks Mama ... I will be back in about half an hour... bye"
Mika's house was about two hundred metres away from the beach. She fidgeted along on the pebbled pathway to the beach. The fresh sea breeze blew her hair all over her face every few seconds. A few joggers passed her on the way. Apart from that, the road was pretty deserted.
She replayed the events since yesterday in her mind as she walked along. Yesterday evening, she had arrived after a nine hour journey from Bangalore. The train had been late by about three hours and the journey had left her totally exhausted. She had just garnered enough energy to have a small chat and an early dinner with her mother and brother. She had also send a short mail to her father in a dreamy state. Then, her senses had just melted away and she had a vague remembrance of her mother gently laying her down on her bed and covering the blanket warmly over her....
"Hi Mika, Merry Christmas!"
Mika turned in the direction of the sound to see her school friend Radhika. She and her husband were jogging back home from the beach.
"Merry Christmas, to you too.."
Mika continued walking towards the beach. She had just reached the stone wall that indicated the start of the beach. She sat on it and looked at the spectacle in front of her. She could not understand what was it that made her do the things that she had done since morning. It seemed so unlike her but something excited her about doing it. She remembered what she had read when she clicked the blinking star on her computer. Whoever the person was, he/she knew what exactly to make her realize on this day and in a fashion that she would never forget. As the person had mentioned, she had taken a printout of the content and brought it out with her to read all alone in this serene environment. She unfolded the printout, closed her eyes for a few moments to calm down her emotions and then began to read.
Continued at Mika - Part II