Christmas Karma

Posted on December 11, 2007

7


Karma saw her boss roll her eyes in disbelief. She was motioning Karma to come out of the sound proof studio, but Karma just stuck her tongue out naughtily! She knew that till the show was over, no one could come in till she let them, and with that assurance, she decided to go ahead with her plan!

“Welcome back to Karma Kola’s Christmas special, I am Karma, and you’re on Radio PINK. We are throwing the phone lines open to all callers to tell us their story and why they dislike the holiday season…and we will try to cheer them up. You can remain anonymous if you want and you can call in as many times as you want! We have our first caller on the line!”

“‘Ello! Who’s this?”

“My name is Mish, hi Karma.”

“Hi Mish! Are you calling in to tell us your Christmas story?”

“Yes, I am”

“So tell me Mish, why do you not like the Christmas season?”

“I live alone in Bangalore , my family is in Delhi. I don’t get enough leave to go home. It makes me feel lonely. Most people like to party, but Christmas is a time for family and friends, and I miss home.”

“Yes, Mish. That can be tough. But cheer up! Walk down Brigade Road on Christmas day and enjoy the lights, it will be beautiful and you will feel cheered up. Do the things you’d do when you’re home! Bake a cake or buy one. Invite colleagues or friends over, or accept invitations if you get any. It’s a time for togetherness, so do your bit and you will find you are not alone! All the best! This is your song…hope you enjoy it very much! Merrrrry Christmas!”

“Thanks Karma, I will try what you’ve said. Bye.”

A song played in the background, Karma could see the phone line already blinking, a caller was online! She took the call to get ready for the second segment of the show.

“Welcome back to the Christmas Special on Karma Kola, we have Monty on the line. Hi Monty! Why don’t you tell our listeners your Christmas story?”

“My name is Monty, I am 13 years old. At school, every year we are supposed to take a gift. All the children pick up name-chits from a bowl and they exchange gifts with the person whose name they pick up! I have picked the name of the richest girl in class. Karma, I come from a poor family and I cannot buy her an expensive present. I am afraid that she will mock at me in front of others.”

“Monty, Monty…Christmas gifts are not about how costly they are, it is about how thoughtful they are! You could make her something special! How about a Jar of Happiness! You could take an old bottle and fill it up with colourful chits that have good thoughts written on them. You can tell her to pick up one chit everyday and treat it as thought for the day!”

In this way, Karma took several calls for a fortnight, she replied to each caller with a simple solution, but she still had not found her two special guests whom she could invite for the Christmas Eve Special! The producer was getting hyper. Though the show was increasing the station’s popularity, they needed to keep their promise of having two interesting people for the final episode! And it was just a week to the final episode!

Karma sipped on what seemed like the hundredth cup of coffee and yet again listened to some of the short-listed callers. Oh! She had heard all the reasons over and over again! Not enough money to buy presents, no time to buy an outfit for the party, no invitations to parties, just moved to another city where there were no friends, etc etc. The patience with which Karma was listening to these woes was running out. She was still to come across someone who genuinely had a reason to be upset.

Puneeta, the receptionist informed Karma that a caller was on line. Karma asked her to tell the caller to call back when the show was on air. Puneeta said she had already tried that, but the caller insisted on speaking to Karma immediately. Suppressing her irritation, Karma picked up the phone.

“Heylo, Karma speaking.”

“Hi!” the voice on the other side said.

“Yes, you wanted to speak to me?”

“Karma, my daughter died last year on Christmas day!”

“I am so sorry! Can you please tell me your name?”

“My name is Abe. My daughter was all I have ever had; she was my reason to live. I don’t know why she died Karma. She just didn’t wake up one morning. She was 8 years old.”

“Abe, would you like to have a cup of coffee with us on Christmas Eve?”

“I wanted you to give me one of your solutions. I wanted you to tell me how to deal with this mind-numbing pain that I am feeling. How will a cup of coffee help?”

Abe sounded agitated, though his voice was controlled. Karma could feel his desperation through the phone and she was a little worried. She really wanted Abe to come on the show. But this conversation was not going well.

“Abe, it is precisely why I want you to come to the show, you will have someone to meet. Also, I promise that I will have a solution to your problem. And plus, I do make the world’s best coffee, I am not joking, I do!”

She could feel Abe thawing a little. “Okay, I will try.”

The producer was hopping mad when she heard this. “Karma, you are one week away from being fired. You have overstepped a line this time. This is not a joke. This man sounds like he is in serious pain. How will you solve his problem?”

Karma remained silent, because she herself was wondering what solution she would have for Abe! But bravely she said to the producer, “Sangeeta, I know his pain is real. That’s why I want him on the show. You can fire me later if you want. This isn’t a cheap trick. I really want to help this man. Fire me, if I don’t deliver on my promise.”

Karma walked away with a confidence she did not feel.

“Welcome to the last show of this year and also the concluding segment of our Christmas Special. You’re on Karma Kola and this is Radio PINK. We have with us two special guests today. Please welcome Abe, our first guest.”

“Hello everyone, my name is Abraham and I want to thank Karma for inviting me to this show.”

“Abraham lost his daughter Mariam last year on Christmas day and we have invited him here to cheer him up.”

The producer and the entire staff at Radio PINK was standing outside the sound proof transparent studio listening and watching the drama that was about to unfold.

Karma was speaking again, “Our second guest tonight is a very special girl, Nina. Nina is 8-years old, and she is HIV-positive. Nina has lost both her parents to HIV in the last two years. She now lives at a shelter home called Ashiana”

“Hello everybody, I am Nina. Thank you Karma aunty for calling me to this show.”

Karma spoke again, “Nina called me to say that she wanted to give someone a Christmas present. But she had two conditions, it would have to be a stranger and it would have to be someone who really needed it.”

The producer of the show broke into a smile and gave Karma the thumbs-up sign. Karma smiled, still not sure if it would work out the way she hoped.

“Nina would you like to give a gift to Abraham. His daughter was your age and she died last year on Christmas day. He is hurting Nina, so would you like to cheer him up?”

The next voice on air was Nina’s.

“Uncle Abe, this is a very special gift. The special thing about this gift is that the giver is also the receiver and the receiver is also the giver. So are you ready to give and receive this gift?”

Abe seemed a little perplexed, but decided to go on with the game.

“Yes Nina, I am ready and very curious about this special gift.”

“Uncle Abe, it is a hug that I want to give you. When I hug you, you will hug me back and that will be my gift! People don’t hug me because of HIV, so when you hug me back; I will get the one thing that I have been living for!”

Abe and Nina hugged amidst tears and applause from the entire unit of Radio PINK.

An original story by Ekta Hattangady, please feel free to pass it on. Merry Christmas! I wrote this story to cheer myself up and a special present to all my friends across the globe.

HIV does not spread through hugs, sharing food, a peck on the cheek, mosquito bites, so please hug freely and educate yourself and others about HIV.

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