The last call
Two days to Christmas. The DJ plays a soft bluesy number as the house lights come on. I look around with bleary eyes. The less inebriated amongst us have checked our coats out and the bouncers gently try to dislodge us to begin the journey home. As we stumble out the rush of cold air is welcome. Minus 10 degrees means none of us hang around and all bundle into the cab. Everyone’s still in high spirits and talking loudly.
No one notices as I sink into a corner of the cab and wearily watch the lights of London fly by. It’s early morning and the only one’s out and about are revellers like us, the East-Europeans heading off to their early morning jobs, milk and newspaper delivery trucks. I am looking forward to home, a hot bath and unwinding on the couch with a hot mug of coffee. Although tired I know that I will need that ‘me time’ to properly fall asleep.
Unconsciously my thoughts roam to the year gone by. As I grow older I have matured. My world has slowed down, while the rest of 2010 flashed by. My other four mates in the cab surround me but yet I feel tremendously melancholy. I call them my ‘mates’ as they are still not my friends. I am more than guilty as they think of me as a good mate, I take long to make friends, and again as I mature it’s harder and harder to change my Sri Lankanisms. I worry I am becoming a grumpy old man. Little things don’t worry me anymore, but the big things worry me more. Christmas and Christmastime bothers me the most. To me it’s that specific time of the year you are sharply reminded of the income gap that bridges the haves from the have-nots. The homeless man I just saw sleeping under one of the Harrods shop windows as we pass Knightsbridge will haunt me like the ghost of Christmas past. How is he managing in minus 10 temperatures?
Last year I arrived in the Paradise Isle on Christmas day to party non-stop with my friends in Dickwella and onwards to 31st night at Galle Face. This year in the London-Elstree Holiday Inn Masquerade Ball. Actually my first 31st party in London. With my mates! J
Non-Christian me will celebrate Christmas in our own special way. My wife’s relatives will come home early morning for mutton curry and milk-rice. Presents will be opened. Sash and San who are my sis-in-laws kids are still 2 and 6. They believe in Santa. One of the nice things about Christmas, Santa. Our kid is a teenager, she knows, but still expects as many presents under the tree.
I am home. The repeat of the Amir Khan fight’s on Sky Sports. I take a sip of hot coffee and snuggle under the duvet. Everything is ready for Christmas. As I drift to sleep I lay my soul for the good Lord to keep and pray I will not dream of the homeless man I saw earlier this morning.