I smell freedom. It’s in the air – Holidays, Christmas, and my birthday on Boxing day.
I vividly recollect my crying in anxiety and nervousness during my exams earlier this year. I had felt victimized by the length of time that separated me from the happier days of December and by the gauntlet of Semester exams I had to complete back then.
“I will be at Emmanuel’s, Mummy”, I shout as I leave the home. But then I realize, I am home alone for a couple of hours.
It’s chilly. -5 degree Celsius, reads the weather app on my mobile phone. I walk down the steps outside my block and, as I often like to do, I jump off the last but second step and to land on lawn path cutting across our driveway. It often left me satisfied to land my feet exactly on the two spots that bore my shoe-prints from my repeated jumps.
But today as I jump, I am thrown back after hitting myself against something that appeared to be a wall. The nose hurts. I try to feel my nose as it feels moist but there was no blood on my fingers. I could breathe, still, but the air smelled stale.
What was that? There is nothing ahead. It is as clear as daylight. I rise and move my jaw in circles to make myself feel better from the shock.
I stand on the last step and bend forward slightly and move my hands forward to feel the barrier, if there was any.
Yes, there is something. Feels like glass, but little squishy.
I press my hand into the barrier and it forms a depression and my hands enter in. I feel being pulled in. I try to withdraw myself by bending backwards but no sooner do I try to get myself out than I see a distorted image of a large hand from within the glass barrier clench me and my home.
I transcend down through a vortex into a time warp and I see familiar objects floating around – my home, the neighbourhood, parents, teacher, school, my bicycle….
And then, a familiar sight presents itself – Santa – but he is looking away from me. I see his big bulky back in Santa suit. I rejoice this special moment of being drawn into something so surreal. I inch closer towards him and cry out in excitement “Santa!” He turns back.
Terror stares at my face!
He has vampire fangs! Santa? I grasp for breath and feel my heart pounding hard against my chest. I feel every hair rising – Goosebumps of extreme fear.
Terrified, I yell out: “Wh..Who are you? Sa-Sa-Santa? Your face? And fangs?”
“I am not Santa. I am Krampus”, he replies in a loud, sinisterly voice.
“I go around with Nick this time of the year.” the devilish figure replies.
“Who is Nick?” I ask, still terrified.
I watch the face has grown bigger in the moments we spoke, and the surroundings darker and with every passing moment. I now only see the face and its scary features with unavoidable clarity.
“Nick? Ah, Nicholas! You know him as Santa Claus. I call him Nick. He gifts and I punish – punish the badly behaved children like you, Johny. This is time to read out your wrongdoings and improprieties to you.” And he continues with a litany of misdeeds, all of them reportedly mine –
“Sticking chewing gum underneath school desks, copying in exams, missing school, forging father’s signature on absence notes and faking false doctor’s certificates, doing all your assignments and homework by halves, refusing to work harder to improve your grades…. the list is, well, rather, long and I have to punish you for these and time is not on my side this year. You see, I have a long list of homes to visit this year. There isn’t much goodness around and so Nick’s got lesser to do and I have more.” Saying this, he takes out a rusty chain and remarks, “This shall do for now to punish you with.”
“But hang on, Cr-Cram-pus. How do you claim these are my misdeeds? What assurance do you have? I plead innocent. I have been at my best behaviour this year and have been really working hard in everything at school. My parents have been quite happy with my performance and behaviour. So what makes you think it’s me?”, I surprise myself by gathering enough courage to interrogate.
I think to myself,”I may have rung my death knell by making that inquiry.” On the contrary, it turns out differently.
“Isn’t this 52 Naivakananumi, Herlstone Park, 2454?”, he asks with a confused countenance and with a GPS like device in his hand!
“Oh! No, Saint Crampus!”, I exclaim in anticipation of hope to send him away and by exhibiting my good behaviour by addressing the dastardly creature as ‘Saint’.
I added,“This is 52 Vaikananumi, Herston Park, 2545. You’re at the wrong address. Miles away but so sound so similar. Not entirely your fault, Sainth Crampus!”
“Damn! I had told Nick, I mean Santa, that I can’t operate these modern day inventions!”, he complains showing me his GPS device. “Fat fingers you see! I apologise for bothering you. I will key in the right address into this box and continue on my way. I have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Will you put me back where I came from?” I ask, again in anticipation of being released.
“Of course!” he says and disappears.
I find myself on the last step outside my home, back into my real world. I hurriedly run back into my home. I pause, turn back and laugh out by staring at my address plate that is erect on our driveway at such an angle that I can read “52 Naivakananumi, Herlstone Park!” It’s the laugh of deception. I smell freedom again. It’s in the air!