It is a little after 5:00 am. My cooker is warming up and I am mulling what goes on the stove next when I think I hear footsteps. Not the kind I associate with Saathi but something softer, intentional. Fairly certain it is Pattu sneaking up on me, I turn. Saathi is tip-toeing, a bright red elf in his hand and what certainly looks like a Hershey kiss.
He shushes me and goes about this elaborate charade with the air of a man on a mission. I humor him and watch with amusement as he looks for a place to settle the elf. I suggest the stockings that hang from the mantel. He deliberates and eventually puts it right on the mantel and artfully places the chocolate to make it seem like the elf has gone overboard with the kisses.
I shake my head and proceed with the cooking. I am also overcome with love for this goofy man who is determined to keep up with the elves and Santas myth as much as possible. Each time I tell my twins that mommy is Santa, their belief in this chubby red man grows a little more.
The morning plays out as predicted. The children come down within minutes of each other. They look for the elf and are thrilled to see it has moved overnight. They triumphantly shake their fingers and say “I told you so.”
Laddu takes credit for her idea that chocolate returns magic to elves that the children have touched. For a while, I give up and get carried away by the strength of their faith in silly things.
It is a little past 7:00 am as I hop on the elliptical. I open up my trusty music app and my finger hovers over Arijit Singh before I pick Subbulakshmi instead. I chant along as I walk. This is my morning routine, one born out of boredom. Now, it is a talisman. The half-hour of chanting clears my brain, settles me in ways I had not foreseen. I almost imagine the mystic chant as a sort of a shield that deflects nazar.
I take a break from work around the lunch hour. I fold clothes as I talk to Amma. We discuss Sani Peyarchi. I tell her about the videos I watch. We talk about our collective fates. I feel silly doing this but it gives me joy.
I am a rational being. I am likely the parent who tells a three-year-old that Santa is not real. I believe in the vague idea of god, a formless divinity that is female in my head. I believe that the objects that traverse the same path as the earth around the sun exert influence on our lives. I am a bundle of contradictions. I sometimes google out of body experiences. I am fascinated by the stories of monks and impossible feats. I devour paranormal experiences not with skepticism but with the air of one who wants to be convinced there is more to this consciousness than our mortal frames.
My mind goes back to the image of Saathi engaging in something he does not believe with conviction because he wants to preserve that magic of childhood. How different am I from Pattu and Laddu with their wide eyes?
Tis the season for magic, for make-believe, for happy endings, for resolution. It is the end of the year and the start of things new and shiny. If a magic elf and a happy man sliding down chimneys are what it takes to keep the joy in the home, why not?