THE GIFT OF MAGI

“So, what do you want for your birthday?”

Silence.

“What should I get for you?”

Continued silence.

“What is it that I should get for you on your birthday – that will make you happy?”

The change in tone, and slight increased volume – meant that the continued silence would be detrimental to the health and harmony of the family, the community, and the environment.

“Anything you wish, dear – whatever gives you the pleasure. I shall accept anything gratefully and gracefully. Only condition is that the giving of the gift should make you happy.”

A frosted breath! A drop of condensation on his beer mug remained suspended and froze. So cold….He shivered.

“My gift to you will give ME happiness?”

“Always – its like this. The gift will give you satisfaction – you did something big for me, and you made me happy. And that in turn would make you happy. And I would be happy, too! In other words….”

Suddenly, he found he was talking to the air. He stared at his mug – beer now warm and flat!

He had done it again. Closed mouth gathers no feet – but he had opened his mouth so wide that in went both the feet to the thighs.

“How to influence friends; and win over your spouse?” He wished Dale Carnegie had written a tome on the subject.

But was it his fault? He traveled down the memory lane, recalling various gifts he had received:

“Belly button lint cleaner”

“Nose and Ear Hair trimmer”

“Shoe Odor eliminator”

And tons of anti-perspirants, colognes, socks, ties and kerchiefs. Only when he had thundered aloud “Do I have a stinking personality?” that the perennial flow of colognes and anti-perspirants stopped.

His children had given up on him: “Dad, you are the most difficult giftee – nothing makes you happy.”

“A day spent together, a family dinner – full of fun, frolic and festivity – like we used to have few centuries ago; or a heavenly breakfast at IHOP. Any of these would make my CENTURY.” But he had held his tongue – knowing it was of no use. There are mountains to climb and valleys to cross – let bygones be shelved!

Ask not what the family gives you – ask what you give to the family.

He compared the gifts he received with those he had given to his beloved. During courtship phase, most of the card shop and chocolate shop owners knew him by his first name; and relied on him for supplying steady flow of funds to their cash box.

The flow continued for a few months after the wedding. Then the questions started.

Amorous card or the ‘amras’ for lunch?

A bouquet of red roses or a banquet meal?

Lingerie for her or lungi for himself?

A toaster for the Valentine Day; followed by a top-notch vacuum cleaner for her birthday; and then a whole set of Calphalon Cookware Set. And yet he found himself more and more in the dog house than the seventh heaven – which he had hoped.

The vacuum cleaner was his initiative. He wanted to surprise her with something novel. She had hinted that she wanted something new, very shiny and clean and which doesn’t go very fast. The Miele Vacuum Cleaner fitted the bill – it was new (in the market), very shiny, cleaned everything, and went as fast as the operator would take it. His daughter explained to him next day that the mom wanted an automobile! Not the clunker she was driving, but a brand new one!

Pah! Women! How was he to know?

The Calphalon Cookware set on Diwali day – and she immediately banged the pan against the pot so hard – that both had dents. Fortunately, he was away from the pots and pans; and no major damage done.

Back to the realty – he had to think fast. Salvage the situation and mitigate the misery – else a few more nights on the couch. He wondered whether it would be a good investment to buy the most comfortable sofa bed. Shaking his head, he resolved to focus on present crises. Whipping out his smart phone and he fired up the lap-top. Scouring various websites, and prompts – he made online purchases with pick-up delivery at the stores. Having accomplished the difficult task, he almost danced with glee, restrained, and slunk out of the house for picking up the booty.

Returning home, he found the climate still wintry – so straight he went to her:

“Honey, I am so sorry for the horrible mistake I made this morning. I am really, really sorry. Here’s something for you to show that I really care…”

He handed over to her a big pink colour Victoria Secret bag – which contained two gift wrapped packages – one big and one small.

“This doesn’t mean you are off the hook. You don’t know how much you have hurt me. After all the things I do for you, and taking care of YOUR children.” SOB!

She carefully opened the bigger package – saving the wrapping paper for future use. And she giggled – just like the teenager she used to – when he gave her a funny, lovey-dovey card. And then she opened the smaller package. Screaming with joy, she hugged him. She got the most precious gifts. The lovers – in fiction – promise moon and stars to the loved-ones. But her husband – in real life – got something rarer than the moon or the stars or the universe.

“A full package of toilet rolls and bottle of hand sanitizer.”

Everything was forgiven, everything forgotten. And everything, once again, CLEAN!

2 Comments

  1. VINAY

    Atul bhai,

    You have penned yet Another superb article on March 31, 2020.

    I have said time and again that your writing talent is unmatched and so natural.

    This time it’s NOT ANY DIFFERENT. Considering, it’s a TAX season which keeps you busy and I am sure you work 12 hours a day at least. And yet you wrote this article TWO days prior to your birthday !!!!!! I don’t know whether your dear wife read this article, but she is WISE enough to get What you want for THIS BIRTHDAY…………..

    As for us WE SEND YOUR WAY MILLION BEST WISHES IN ADVANCE ….

    Vinay Chaskar

  2. Deepak Arora

    Well Written. I wish I could write like you.

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