I was five years old and Christmas was coming. We never asked for something specific. It was just accepted that we would get a surprise which, when you think about it, was absolutely tantalising. I remember the incredible anticipation, the inability to sleep and pretending to do so. The soft voices of people downstairs broken by the occasional bout of laughter. I can clearly remember the very starry sky from my window.
I awoke to my sisters' and brothers' shrieks of delight and scrambled for my box, placed silently by an incredible Santa, at the end of my bed. When I lifted up the huge box I could instantly see through the cellophane - A DOLL! MY DOLL! Given to ME! I fell in love instantly. She was beautiful, and I hugged her and hugged her. Her eyes were the colour of the flowers that grew wild in our fields, so I called her Violet.
For many years Violet was my confidante, my best friend and my comforter. She travelled with me everywhere and she stayed with me when I was sick. She was a real person, with no faults. I sewed and knitted to keep her in the highest fashion. When she got sick many many years later, her eyes fell out. I saved my money to have her 'hospitalised', and her sight restored.
No other Christmas has been like my Violet's arrival. Santa was really good to me!
Woken by the call to prayer. The mosque next door continues its duties, untouched by the West. Downstairs the marble is cold underfoot. The soft sound of creeping steps cuts the silence. Outside the sky is ablaze, streaked with deep crimson and pale pink. The waves gently lap at the shore, so quietly, not wanting to wake anyone. The windows cloaked with condensation barely allow light to pierce the dark. Candles cast shadows on the wall and reflect off the floor.
The tree stands alone, tall and proud in the stifling desert. Inscribed on the window are big bold letters : HAPPY CHRISTMAS.
I'm not the first up.
A cold wind bites at my face.
The wind is cloaked with a white cloth,
with the morning light dancing across it.
The flashing lights glisten in people's eyes,
there is joy and love and hope,
there is laughter and singing.
But as soon as the day has gone,
the black fog flows down,
and we are blinded by the sense of absence,
And we wish, and wait
for that feeling again, of life,
that ecstasy, that wholeness.
Just another day.
Celebrate with bowl of rice,
Complaining 'How cold!'