A Marvelous Gift
Kathakali Mukherjee

Dona was browsing Instagram when an advertisement captured her imagination. Many years ago, she had walked past Swarovski store in Forum mall at least thousand times and felt a desire to walk in at least hundred times, yet never actually did it. Not that she didn’t have money those days; on the contrary, buying a piece of jewelry was easier for Dona who had a well-paid job. But her foodie self, had been more inclined to explore newer food joints than jewelry stores. She was sure about delicacies that would suit her taste buds but unsure whether crystals would look good on her dusky skin. As she moved out of Bangalore to return to her hometown in Trichi, leaving behind numerous ice-cream parlors and restaurants which she regularly visited, Swarovski too was wiped out from her memory.

Today the glittering crystals in Instagram ignited her desire once again after many years. However, since she is not an overzealous buyer, she lustfully watched the ad a couple of times and then forgot about it again.

However, the Artificial intelligence technology behind that digital marketing process of the ad remembered her. And so, the same ad kept on returning to her mobile screen repeatedly, on Instagram, on Facebook and a sponsored links on regular Google searches. This constant reminder of a rather beautiful ad led to a desire of placing an online order. But she was someone who didn’t quite enjoy online shopping, so she asked for her mother to accompany her to the jewelry store during the December festival season.

But soon enough she realized the absurdity of that idea too – she is not yet fully vaccinated; hence not allowed to step out without dire need. She won’t be able to participate in the Mass in Church for another year. Also, the Christmas celebration in their home has been cancelled for yet another year due to the stubborn presence of COVID, which means they would have to spend another lonely Christmas marked with minimal decoration and delicacies. From her grandmother, she had heard about gloomy festival days during WWII. The COVID situation brought her back that unseen memory.

She suddenly became conscious of her own mean thought – how could she indulge in a dream to please herself without bothering to buy gifts for others? Once again, the family members would have to transfer money online to each other instead of presenting heartwarming Christmas gifts. She began feeling sorry about the grim situation every time the ad appeared on the screen.

On a December afternoon, her mother directed her, “Dona, tell Ted to get me a couple of silver coins this Christmas, I do not have money to buy anything expensive this year.”
Dona nodded. Mother continued, “This time too, I will send money to relatives like last year. Especially Brian and Chris would need money more than gifts. Who knows how long they would have to work for reduced salary?” Heaving a deep sigh, she said, “This is not time to indulge in unnecessary shopping.” Dona knew the issues her cousins were facing in workplace since Covid arrived in India. Many software companies found the lockdown to be good opportunity to announce pay cut for employees, even if not job-cut. She assumed that her sensitive mother might not be happy to learn about her awkward desire. A virus brought financial distress to many of their extended family, and psychological stress for the rest. Recognizing the emotional stress in her mother’s voice, she opted not to communicate her fancy of purchasing one crystal ornament that kept coming back in her mind for some time. She texted her brother Theodore mentioning their mother’s wish for silver coins.

It was an ordinary evening. She was preparing dinner following her mother’s direction. She heard the honking of their car entering the parking area and within the next five minutes, the calling bell rang. Ted returned from office as usual, carrying the laptop bag and the empty lunch box. Entering the living room, he opened the laptop bag, saying, “Your silver coins, Mom!” He handed a small case to the mother. Then little hesitantly he said, “I bought another thing. If people in the home do not like it, I will post an advertisement that we have something to sell!”

“What is it?” The curious mother daughter duo asked together. They had never seen the boy being so apprehensive, his face so uncertain. The boy slowly pulled out another pack much bigger that the previous one from the backpack, unwrapped it, then said, “This one grabbed my attention in the jewelry store. I thought this would look good on Dona.” Dona’s eyes instantly fell on the label attached to the silvery Jarconium set; it was Swarovski!

Ted sounded relieved looking at his mother’s happy face that shone bright dispelling the deep gloom, “I thought you two would be mad at me for unnecessary purchase during COVID times.”

“Why should we? You bought her a nice gift after all!” Dona was slowly recovering from the shock of a miraculously fulfilled desire, when she heard her no-nonsense mother approving her brother’s buying a moderately expensive gift for her.
She did not want to lose this opportunity to express her joy and began sharing her untold Swarovski affair with her dear ones.
The virus might have stopped them from celebrating Festivals for some time, but it couldn’t stop their bonding to become even more stronger and deeper.
As Swarovski shone brightly, the three of them sat around their small Christmas tree with their humble glasses of wine, relishing the positivity of the festival, as the twinkling of the yellow, red and green lights from the tree fell on their shinning and happy faced.
The Christmas was indeed merry

1 Comment

  • Koyel

    Reply January 14, 2022 |

    Indeed, a merry Christmas. Lovely story.

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