The Lilliput Santas were queued up to move towards the first two rows right in front of the stage so that could get a closer look at the magic show. All must have been below the age of 5 years- I could guess from the average height of the children. My son Eric of 4 years kept turning his head back to see whether mamma and papa were still seated at the table reserved for us. Waiving out to Eric, we assured him that we would be waiting for him at the table till he was back. As Eric trotted along with his clan, he kept looking on either side, above and all over, mesmerized by the Christmas decorations, fairy lights, Christmas tree reindeer placards posted on pillars. The magic show of Mr. P. C. Sorcar Junior and his daughter Moubani seemed to have swept the children off the floor. The clowns marched across and he jugglers dodged around the tables of guests. Several games were organised- treasure hunt, lucky draw, musical chairs, odd-one-out, which kept the children engaged for a while. The retro music was being played by a live- band, Mistletoe and the dance floor now were crowded as the evening progressed.
Seated at our table Ari and I got busy chatting with our friends and with those at the adjacent tables. Eric and his counterparts joined us soon, hands loaded with gifts. The pride of having won several trophies gleamed through their eyes. Excitement, fun and frolic and good cheer filled the air of the Christmas party at the Club.
Eric waltzed to a neighboring table to boast about his latest accomplishments, when I noticed him absorbed in conversation with an octogenarian gentleman, as if they had known to each other for a long. Eric could be seen rolling in laughter, maybe at a joke or perhaps teased by this new found elderly friend. My attention got diverted from the party and completely oblivious of the people around me; I kept gazing and enjoying the companionship of the two individuals with a huge disparity of age, size and maturity. The honesty of their expressions and mutual understanding left me spell-bound. I shifted my chair closer to theirs so that I could eavesdrop into their discussion.
“Willy, want me to get you a drink?” a friend of his yelled out.
“I’m fine, thanks,” was the prompt reply from an energetic voice that instilled Eric with enthusiasm. I sensed Mr. Willy, as I learnt the name, offering Eric a drink perhaps. Eric’s eyes widened with joy when he saw a glass of orange juice served to him. The concerned, kind adult extended his hand to check the chill of the drink, knowing well that a cold drink on a winter’s night would give Eric a sore throat. When he was satisfied with the temperature, Mr. Willy reached out the glass to his little friend whose patience got tested while he waited for his drink; maybe Eric was thirsty.
Eric now looked forward to his next round of games and tricks with Mr. Willy. I realized Mr. Willy’s growing fondness for Eric. In the midst of their chit-chat, Eric’s attention dawned upon me; on reaching out to me he introduced me to his dear friend; Mr. Willy and I greeted each other exchanging smiles. After a hug and peck on his cheek, Eric ensured to take back from me a kiss in return only to return with his next session with Mr. Willy.
Mrs. Rogers, the secretary of the Club adored Eric. She was always full of praises and appreciation for Eric’s well- mannered and friendly nature. From her I got to know Mr. Willy was officially known as William McGuire. He was ex-serviceman; post- retirement he and his wife traveled the world not only for leisure but also spreading education and social awareness on issues especially concerning children and adult education. Mr. McGuire was instrumental in establishing several schools in the rural belt, primarily in North-East India, where he had been posted for several years during the span of his service. His service to the nation made the Club propose to Mr. McGuire to head the club’s Society for Social Welfare; Mrs. Rogers was however not sure whether Mr. McGuire would accept this offer or would prefer to continue doing his good work in his own way.
Eric had mastered the art of having his way out when he had to find out answers to his curiosity. He appeared to be showing Mr. Willy something at a distance, possibly directing his friend to take him there. I saw them rise from their chairs- Mr. Willy was about 6 feet tall, well- built and broad- shouldered, as opposed to his little Santa friend, less than 3 feet tall; almost an elf beside his genie! Eric again turned back to check if my eyes were on him. With his palm held high- this time Eric assured me that he would be back in a while. He was quite at an ease walking out with a stranger, unlike earlier in the evening when the children were being led to the magic show.
My anxiety did not allow me to remain seated. I followed the twosome and saw them heading towards a lobby decked and kept ready with a sleigh for Santa’s arrival. The sleigh was bare and mums and dads had gathered round it along with their little ones for a photograph. The children took turns to mount on the chariot. A brilliant idea crossed my mind; I walked up to Mr. Willy and requested him for a photograph with Eric. Overwhelmed with joy, Mr. Willy agreed and clasping hands tightly they proceeded to the sleigh. Eric’s excitement haloed round his head; electrified with the proposal of a photo shoot with his super-senior citizen friend, Eric was getting restless as they waited in the queue to get in to the sleigh.
The photo shoot captured the most magnificent moments and sincere emotions of two souls. It was as though Santa had gifted this genie-friend to Eric. A Christmas party turned special by two charming hearts.