Santa Claus was in a fix. And it was a mighty big one! It was hot. The temperatures were soaring to record peaks that scorching summer. December in Dodoland is always sizzling anyway, with people unhappily perspiring away.

BHAWNA ATMARAM

The ladies were particularly grumpy, as their hair became woefully greasy and their make-up kept melting like wax, exposing their true faces to anyone who gave a hoot. Now, understandably, Father Christmas’ trusted army of reindeer refused to make the trip to Dodoland for the customary distribution of presents. They complained relentlessly about the uncomfortable temperatures and even threatened to submit their resignation should the old chap insist.  Finally, not wishing to ruin Christmas in a country which was already on the brink of damnation, good old Santa sighed and decided to save Christmas.  Come what may, the good children should be rewarded.  So, dressed in his red suit, stocking cap, big black boots and the signature buckled belt, he took his sack full of goodies and bought an economy class plane ticket to Dodoland.  Just as he was about to close his eyes once settled in his plane seat, he heard that there was a strike on the Dodo Airline by ruffled pilots.

“What! Another strike? How in the world am I to reach Dodoland? I demand some explanations!” he cried in horror, as he sat up, his heart pounding. “We’re being fleeced, Santa.  Exploited, underpaid.  This is utter slavery!” moaned the pilots. Santa Claus was desperate.  Fortunately, desperate times call for desperate measures and he dug deep into his pockets to throw out a confetti of gold coins.  The pilots fell on their knees, greedily scooped the gold coins and joyfully agreed to do their jobs! “Sorted for now,” thought Santa Claus. And so, the adventure began. After countless hours, he landed in Dodoland and could not resist a quick nip to the duty free shop.  As he was feeling quite peckish, his eyes landed on a big biscuit tin: ‘Whisky and Salt’. ‘That should do the trick! However, his enthusiasm was quashed when he saw the price tag. 17 Euros? “What a gang of brazen thieves!” he huffed. He banged the biscuit tin back onto the shelf and made his way out, ready for the distribution for presents. With no reindeer nor sleigh, he had resigned himself to take public transport or a taxi to carry out his noble mission.  Bizarrely, he could see no motor vehicle. Not a single one in sight! But there was a huge crowd of frustrated people screaming instead.

As he scratched his head worriedly, trying to make sense of the situation, a security officer informed him of the national strike afflicting Dodoland due to the crazy surge in the prices of petrol and diesel. People were boycotting their fuel providers, trying to push the government to reconsider their decision. Another strike? “Crazy, isn’t it? A poisoned gift for Christmas! But our rulers don’t care! They don’t want to know, Santa!” said the security officer dejectedly. Father Christmas was feeling hot but then started boiling due to his mounting anger.  He was sweating profusely and his warm, red outfit was not helping either! He was so irate that he wanted to go home but then thought of the innocent children he would let down.  He was determined to make it somehow and managed to borrow a bicycle from the security officer.  It was a comical sight to see him panting while distributing the presents and people soon read about the news on social media.  They took to the streets, clapped and cheered him on and Santa Claus understood that the people were not so bad after all.  And they gave Santa a chilled Fanta from time to time to keep him hydrated.

Eventually, his mission was accomplished but he felt he still had some unfinished business.  He looked into his sack and found some pieces of coal and his eyes glistened mischievously. He cycled on to the House of Parliament and went in to drop the coal pieces on the desks of the selfishly pretentious and ravenously greedy rulers, giving them exactly what they deserved! To top it all, his reindeer had had a change of heart in the meantime and had come to escort him back.  With a wave to the people who had assembled in the streets, Santa winked and was gone in the blink of an eye. Christmas was saved in Dodoland!