GRANNY’S SENSITIVE TOOTH…
I am Meera and this is my Christmas story.
I was in the fourth standard – a quiet, shy, delicate girl. ‘Delicate’ not physically, but emotionally. Apart from my parents and elder brother, my grandmother stayed with us too. I lovingly called her granny.
Granny must have been around fifty-five then. She had developed high sensitivity in one of her teeth. So anything that was too cold or too hot would agitate her.
Everyone thought my brother was very smart. He had named me ‘Granny’s sensitive tooth’, because I always cried over his silly pranks. And then I was found sobbing in my granny’s arms.
My brother was the little devil of my life at that time in every sense. He used to make fun of my dolls, take all my Christmas presents and made fun of the fact that I believed in Santa. I was not allowed to enter our room when his friends came over, as if I was some big embarrassment and I was not supposed to tell anyone in the school that he was my elder brother.
So, if he was passing by in the corridor with his friends in front of my class, I was not supposed to show any signs of recognition. Worst part was, I did not know how to fight it. So I used to sulk and cry in front of my granny until I would run out of breath.
The nickname ‘Granny’s sensitive tooth’ became a matter of shame for me. Was I like a tooth disorder? I used to have dreams that the whole class was chasing me shouting out ‘Granny’s sensitive tooth’! I felt sick. This was the time; when I started to hide my emotions, suppress my tears and gradually my smile too.
I would write, ‘I want another brother this Christmas. A loving and kind one’ on my wish list to Santa. I came up with a whole bunch of ideas, activities, games that my brother and I could do together. I dreamt my brother was kinder to me; he would take my side in fights against other people in school, and so many other things. In my head I had a completely different person, who resembled my brother.
Gradually, I started drawing these ideas as small illustrations, with the characters of me and my brother. The colourful pictures surely looked beautiful. I had a great time working on them. I kept them safe in my drawing book hidden in my desk in the school. It was like a ‘secret dream project.’
One day, in school, Mrs Joshi, my English teacher, was explaining the meaning of a beautiful poem. It went something like this:
And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
As she was explaining; I found I could not stop my tears, I let them roll down my cheeks, in front the whole class. My teacher noticed that I was crying and told me to accompany her in the staff room after the class. She asked me if I could draw. I said yes. She told me to get my drawing book along. So I did.
She saw all my illustrations and asked, “Wow! You spend a lot of time with your brother. Don’t you?” I replied, “No…I don’t!” and tears welled up in my eyes.
The teacher smiled gently and asked, “Did you like the poem I recited in the class?’
I said, “Yes…I did very much!” So here is another one, she said, “Throw your dreams into space like a kite and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
The lines took my breath, and I felt liberated as I inhaled.
My teacher gave me homework, she told me to make small Christmas tree decorations out of all the illustrations I had drawn with my brother and me. She literally made it sound like a ‘Dream Project’. She did not ask me why I cried but she told me she did see me catch my breath. She asked me “Do you know what a firefly is?”
“Yes! A magical creature with a glimmer”, I said.
She asked me, “Have you ever seen a real firefly?” and I said “No!”
She said, “You know what? God made all the beautiful landscapes, surroundings, the tender grass, the shiny sun, the soothing moon and the sparkling stars. And he made the birds, the animals and the small creatures. He bestowed all these creatures with same elements inside that had innumerable possibilities. Once, he set all these creatures free in the calm of a night, under the stars and the moon, some birds flew following the moonlight. But all the other creatures chose to rest as it was too dark and cold.
All of a sudden, he saw some glitter over the land in the bushes, like stars. He was overwhelmed with joy. One of the glittering insects came to him and resided on his shoulder. Surprised, God smiled and said, “You all loved the stars and the moon didn’t you?”, and so He named the insect firefly. He told the firefly, that there was a magic potion ‘luciferin’ in everyone’s heart, and if any creature caught it’s breathe out of surprise or joy, it had a potential to create something that resembled magic! The expression of the magic could be different for different creatures.
So my dear, if a poem caught your breath and brought tears to your eyes, you are God’s very own firefly because you have a beautiful and a sensitive heart!” the teacher told me.
The word ‘sensitive’ brought a glint in my eyes! I was the chosen one because I was ‘sensitive’. Sensitivity was no longer an embarrassment. Her story was enough to make me feel special for the rest of my life. And I realized being sensitive was the greatest quality. I reached home almost dancing!
Christmas was just around the corner. Granny and me decided to decorate the Christmas tree. I used to believe in Santa Claus a lot….and after listening to these lines I don’t know, why but I imagined Santa riding through the sky coming to me holding my wish list.
Together we made a small beautiful kite. Instead of putting a star we put the kite on the top of the Christmas tree and turned all my pictures into Christmas decorations… Granny added a red ribbon tail to the kite. When we were done, she said, “Your drawings are so beautiful!” and held me close.
My brother saw the Christmas tree and my drawings as decorations and cried his eyes out. I made him cry for the first time! I enjoyed that! He saved all those decorations and the kite very carefully in a box in his room. And after that Christmas he was all I ever wanted. He was kind, protective and loving… he even stopped calling me ‘Granny’s sensitive tooth’. Santa had granted me my wish!
We all took a road trip that year in the winter to the mountains, which was known to have fireflies! They were the most magical things I had ever seen.
To my innocent mind, in all the glitter, of the fireflies I saw Santa taking off in the sky. I asked my brother if he saw Santa but he did not. He said to me, “May be you are the chosen one”.
I am 27 years old now and I still hear the magical bells of Santa’s sleigh during Christmas.
This story is written by Nirzara Verulkar a commercial artist, animator and founder of a design studio called Drawing Chime where she illustrates and writes children’s stories.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wonder Women World.
The poems mentioned in the stories are by Anais Nin.