Sunday, December 09, 2012

Preparing for X-mas

Christmas was approaching. That always meant a lot of things. It meant a break from work, time spent with family, or at some exotic location far away from the daily chores - it meant workdays would be less tiring for a while, since everyone started planning "long vacations" to use up their piled up leave from work.

For Ben, though, this Christmas was special. For one, this would be Diana's first Christmas. He knew she would forget everything about it, as she grew up. But he knew the feeling of Christmas would remain with her. And it was important for him to make it as special as he could for his daughter.

Ben didn't consider himself a devout Christian. He didn't go to the Church every Sunday. He didn't care a dime whether there really was a Jesus, or a Father, Son and Holy Ghost. However, he did believe that the Bible gave a strong message of how to lead one's life. Every morning, he would cross himself, and think - what can I do to help people today?

Quite in line with his way of thinking, he worked at the Social Security Administration. Day in and day out, he helped people in making claims for social benefits. Sometimes he had to re-read everything that he had learned to help a Senior get what was due to him. Every step along the way, Ben got an immense sense of satisfaction that his work was making people's lives easier.

Big clear numbers rolled up on a laptop screen, as Ben checked the Xmas Clock to see how far off Christmas was. Just about a fortnight away. He sighed. Though it seemed like a long time, there were still many things left to be planned out. The garage and yard had to be cleared out to make space for the barbecue. The car was going to need servicing, so that they could make that long road trip on Boxing day, to see his parents. The dog, Lucy, needed her routine check-up. Getting appointments for everything was going to be tricky.

After half an hour, and half a dozen phone calls, Ben was considerably relieved. Though not at the best of times, he had managed to squeeze everything into the weekends. He knew that neither he nor Laura would have time during the week to get chores done. Between working 9 to 6, dropping their daughter off for day care everyday, and keeping the house together, she was already doing more than her fair share. Ben, on the other hand, would get back early, picking up Diana on the way home. He would keep her engaged as best as he could till Mommy was back, reading out rhymes to her, and entertaining her with new toys.

New toys for the baby was his next major hurdle. The odd thing is, he just could not make out what would catch her attention. He had no choice but to mix things up, so that Diana would still find enough to keep her engaged. They had already bought the usual bouncers, musical trains and cars, and walking piano. She had liked one car, but not another. She appeared to like the tunes from the train, but not the notes from the piano. But she would never stick to one toy for more than five minutes.

Finally, Ben decided he should go for a singing guitar and a "Leaptop", the toy that looked like a laptop. He didn't want to start giving her a real iPad yet. The general recommendation nowadays was to keep babies away from screens for as long as possible, so that they didn't get addicted to today's "Angry Birds" and "Temple Run".

To top it all off, Ben knew he had to get a real Christmas tree. After some googling, he figured he should be able to get one at the closest Home Depot. He made a note to pick it up the next day, as they were sure to run out fast. Ben then considered arranging a Santa Claus to drop by on X-Mas. Would that be a good idea? No, chuck it, he decided. Some surprises should be left for the future.

Though he was done with everything he had planned, it suddenly struck Ben, that his wife would really appreciate a new camera. Laura loved taking photographs, and had been eyeing camera stores every time they walked past them. They only had a old point-and-shoot for the time being. Ben decided he should look up good camera deals. He remembered that his friend had recently pointed him to a really cool site for finding good deals. Surely enough, a quick search at DealScorcher got him some really good deals for the T4i, but he also found some good deals at Sams Club for the T3.(Canon T3 12.2MP Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens - (Google Affiliate Ad). He decided he'd do a more thorough comparison soon. After all, the best in the market would always be welcome. On the other hand, starting off with the T3 would get Laura accustomed to DSLR photography, and let them buy better much better equipment later, after the prices came down again.

Now that he had most of the nitty-gritties worked out, Ben leaned back to enjoy Rihanna's latest album, Unapologetic. He knew that in a few minutes, his daughter would be up again, toddling around with her Mommy following her, trying to once again rediscover the living room, and find something she hadn't seen before. He would soon have some more new things for her to explore.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The new beginning

[ Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.]

Noah stepped off the space ship. He had spent 4 long years working as an aerospace engineer. He had made a home away from home on those strange planets that he had chanced to land on as he traveled from one craft to another. He had no choice. It was his job. But he had loved his job. Every moment of those 4 years had been well spent. He had seen creatures he had never imagined existed. He had learned skills that he never though he would be capable of. He felt proud to have worked with such intricate machinery. He felt honored to have worked shoulder to shoulder with the leading mechanics of the galaxy.

It had been a tough decision. But Noah had decided it was time to come back home. To start things afresh. To bring his experience back home, and build on his home planet. What would he build? He didn't know. All he knew was, he had an unfulfilled duty that he owed to his motherland. He would figure out the rest. Or, he would just wing it.

As he took in the surroundings, he observed his near and dear ones among the crowd cheering for him. He hadn't anticipated his homecoming to be such an event. After all, he had never been famous. Alright, his job had actually been "rocket science". Still... he had just gone out, done his regular job, and decided to come back. It was no different from any other job in the galaxy.

He observed the expressions on the faces around him, and noticed quite a plethora of emotions. Some were delighted, while many others held an expression of fear or confusion. He knew they would ask the inevitable question... "Why did you come home? You could have made a life there!" He also knew that he wasn't ready with an answer. He let it be, hoping that time would answer all of the questions.

Now back home, he found that little had changed in his town. His favorite snack shop was right where he remembered, and the snacks were just as tasty. The weather could never have been better. The people all went about doing their daily chores, busy as ever. Everyone greeted each other with the same warmth that he had always associated with home.

Though Noah did take some time to readjust himself to his old ways of life, he was glad to be home. He had been fortunate to get the best of treatment, and garner respect throughout his career, even when far away. But it felt good to be treated once again like the little fledgling who was stumbling along these streets not too long ago. It felt great to relive his memories of childhood, and of the place where he learned to walk, then run before he flew off on his interplanetary adventures. As he stood by, staring at the glory of the sunset, he looked onward at the horizon. It reminded him once again, of how far he had come, yet also of the limitless expanse that lay in front of him, begging to be discovered.