A Christmas Treat

Chapter XXI
A Christmas Treat: The Lunch Box Journal

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Unplanned rains and chilly mornings, but chillier office floors; stars and lights brightening the night: it was the season of joy and sharing. Well, it never snowed in that part of the world, ever. But it still had a significance of its own along with the joy of sharing, it was sort of a big celebration. The office mirrored similar emotion on the onset of December. Of the many things that were planned for the month, Secret Santa got the most attention. The game had simple rules: Each one has to pick up a name from the bowl which had all the names of the people on the floor. And each one whose name they get, they become the (secret) Santa while the person whose name is on the chit becomes the Chris-child. Now, the Santa will give clues along with certain tasks to their child and the child has to guess who their Santa is. The one who figures out who their Santa is with the clues provided won’t have to do any of the tasks given to them. At the end of the game, everyone will gather and guess their Santa if they haven’t already and one person who has the complete list will verify. And no matter whether the guess is right or wrong, the Santa has to give a gift to their child.

Aryan has had bad experiences earlier in which he had to perform tasks that were not given by his Santa, but by some mischevious people who just wanted to have some fun of their own. And him being the introvert had his fingers crossed. Gautham wanted to actively participate for the fun of it. Akhil was already up for it and was ready to get to any task ahead of him. While Neil and Madhav had always actively participated in any such events, Sameer was excited on a whole new level. He was not just ready, he looked as if he was waiting for this moment to come for a long time and it was his moment to shine.

As per instructions, each picked up their child. Some were happy, while some hoped to know who the person was since a few of the people have not interacted with the others are completely unaware of the people from other rooms. Even after a round of introductions, it was still unclear to a lot many but no one wanted voice it out loud fearing that by doing so, they would be revealing their child in a way, which wasn’t supposed to happen. While the lunch group discussed upon their Chris-childs and the tasks that they are supposed to give along with the clues, each revealed their Chris Child except Neil, who kept saying that his child was one among the group. Now, the suspense was killing them who this might be.

The first day of the meeting went like a charm since a lot didn’t give many tasks to their child. While Aryan had to list out some security policies, Akhil settled down to his usual song, which was asked of him, again. While Sameer narrated a song in a perfect Kerala accent, this one gentleman who was Gautham’s child had to do push-ups ended up standing by the wall and pushing it confusing the people what a push up actually was.

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And then there was Saira. After a little ‘alleged’ heartbreak that she had a few months back, was slowly recovering from it, but little did she know that there was someone who liked her voice. But since he was one of those shy types, it wasn’t easy for him to approach her and break the ice. He had been trying to get a chance a meet and talk to her. She was part of Sameer’s rotary club and he had told him to see if he could do anything about it, jokingly but he actually meant it though. This one time when she greeted him with a ‘Hi’, his excitement had no bounds. He was so excited that day and told everyone he met that she talked to him.

The final day was fast approaching and it was found that some of the people were not picked up the first day and the organizer Sameera checked it up and found that Saira and a few others were still not picked up by anyone. So, she asked the other people who had not picked up that day so that it would be a fair game. But the bigger question was how was Saira getting tasks and clues all the while when no one hadn’t picked up her name in the first place. The first person to be pointed out would be Sameer and if not him, no one else would actually.

Aryan came to know about this change the last day itself and immediately came up with a plan to take the drama of hide ‘n seek infatuation to a whole new level. Though Aryan had come to know about Sameera owning the list of people along with their child. But it didn’t strike Aryan until the end of last day after he came to know about the changes in the Chris-childs for a few people which included Saira. So, he devised a plan then and there, when the office was about to get over. Saira was the child of a new person in the project who was working under Sameer. Now, there were so many things at play. One, convincing the new joinee to swap her Chris-child with Gautham. The gift, if she had already bought it, could still remain the same though to the wall-pushing push-up expert. Two, convincing Sameera to change the names on her list so that it won’t be embarrassing at the time of the game when they reveal their child, especially for Gautham. Third, to get a gift for Gautham’s new Chris-child, which was supposed to be easy. But since was all a last moment thing, and also since it involved impressing the girl, there wasn’t enough time to get the much-needed things done in time.

Aryan took care of convincing Sameera to swap, who was more than happy to do so but had he told this a few hours ago, there wouldn’t have been that much melodrama as this was turning out to be. Akhil took care of convincing the new joinee to swap the Chris-child with Gautham. So, by the end of the day, two things were already done. The only thing remaining was getting a gift. The following day, Gautham was rechecking, scared and rechecking about the whole debacle that was happening all around him. The game would end in the evening. And most importantly, he still hasn’t got any gift for her, neither did many others. They all decided to go to the nearest shopping complex to get gifts for their Chris- childs. It was a hard struggle to get  an appropriate gift. But it wasn’t that difficult either. All they had to do was get a bottle and get it wrapped. Done deal. But Gautham added another thing to his gift – A pug, not the actual pug but a soft toy pug, a medium sized, but fairly big one. Eventually, all the gifts were packed and everything was almost set while the time slowly inched for the last minute.

Gautham was still shit scared and was double checking whether the plan was still on and whether he should do it at all. He was second and third guessing all these big things that they planned out. Though most of it was Aryan’s doing, who still believe that Gautham went ahead and agreed to do all of it, he was visible silent all about it. Maybe he didn’t want it to backfire and then it would all come to him for even suggesting. But then, after the new change happened, Saira didn’t know who her Santa was since there were no clues given to her earlier. Gautham and Akhil devised the last moment clue to be given to Saira. She, being unaware of this last moment clue was completely unaware of all the parallel story that was playing along until her name was called out. She in her innocence told that she didn’t get any clue. To which the ever so famous Akhil immediately responded to check her desk. She ran to her desk to find a paper on which something was written which looked precisely looked like a Doctor’s prescription. It read like “Music….blah blah …Same religion”, which she couldn’t read either and was later helped by the one who wrote it, who was none other than Akhil. This was a straightforwardrward and it wasn’t hard to figure out who the person was. After all, there were only two guys whose ethnicity matched with hers  and she knew only one who belonged to it. She after a few seconds of thinking shouted, “Gautham”, who acting completely surprised gave her the gift he bought a few minutes earlier and packed neatly with great difficulty by the ever so brilliant Neil.

The whole idea was to make an impression and hopefully it could become the start of something amazing. Sameer was very impressed by Gautham for not chickening out and seeing it through. While Gautham was happy with the new stunt that he pulled out, he was hoping that it leads to something. The other day she even smiled at him when they crossed paths and Gautham’s happiness knew no bounds. But then again, there was something in store for him as the year came to an end.

(To be Continued …)

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The Lunch Box Journal

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