A Different Gift of the Magi by Tabassum Tahmina Shagufta Hussein | Joy to the World Issue 14 | PAROUSIA

Shasha was surfing through her Instagram page. She was looking for a present for her dad. He was a busy man. Shasha wanted to believe that her dad loved her more than anyone else in the world. He was a funny person. They used to have the quality time together. She noticed the change in her dad. Fourteen years old Shasha could hardly remember happy memories of her parents being a happy couple. There were always fights, shouts, slamming doors. And there was always a distance. The things were too bad that Shasha didn’t want to recall the memories. Her Mum was a moody one. She had no sense of humor. She used to work and when she could find time, she took Shasha for a outing. For couple of years, her Mum has changed in a sad way. She is lost in her thoughts. But Dad’s change in the recent years, was different. Shasha couldn’t understand the change. He had no time to talk. He was glued to the cell-phone. They only talked in the dinner-table. His habits and hobbies have changed. He didn’t watch football matches anymore. He used to cook once in a while. And that has stopped too. Her mum was indifferent to his changes. Shasha didn’t understand her Mum. She understood that Mum didn’t do pretending. Then why she didn’t notice his changes?


Shasha never had a normal childhood. She always believed that Dad loved her more than mum. Shasha saved from her pocket money to give him a Christmas gift. She didn’t save any money for her Mum ‘s gift. Mum was a choosy person and it’s always difficult for Shasha to meet up with her taste.


Finally, she found a page of craft. Her Dad used to read and write. But he stopped writing and reading. But never mind! He would love it. She found sets of cute handmade notebooks. These were mini and available in different colors. Her Dad would be able to carry it with his laptop bag. Each notebook had different types of statement. Shasha liked one.  The title is “My External Memory Disk”. It was dark black. Shasha placed the order. Including delivery charge it was $7. It was a secret. Shasha couldn’t wait to give her dad a surprise. She will give it to him on the Christmas Eve.


The parcel came and Shasha has hidden it successfully. Her dad came back around 9 p.m. Shasha decided to wait. But Shasha was surprised to see a huge packet. Before she could understand anything, he opened the packet as if he couldn’t wait any longer. He opened the wrap and there was a wooden box.  It was customized and his name was embossed in golden color and there was a logo of his favorite Football team. Shasha thought that the packet had gifts for her. Though Dad has gifted her an air fry cooker. There is no tradition of Christmas gift opening on Christmas Eve or on the Christmas day in their house. He gave gift when the time suited him. “My Christmas gift from my colleagues”. Shasha was curious. She had never met his colleagues. “How kind they are” she thought. “Shasha, show the gift to your mum, they have bought it from the official page of the team”. Shasha went to her Mum’s room and showed to her. She looked at it without any expression. Inside there were a leather money bag, key ring, leather bind note book. Shasha noticed the smirk in her mother’s face. At that moment her father entered the room with a smile of victory. They didn’t talk and her father returned to his room. Shasha went to the kitchen. She put the food in the micro-wave. Shasha and her dad ate the dinner. All the items were Christmas special and pre-ordered. Shasha and her dad didn’t talk as he was in a hurry to go back to his room. Shasha heard her mum coughing. She had cold for two days. Shasha washed the dishes. Then she prepared instant noodles soup for her mum. She added hot sauce, lemon, black pepper and salt. Mum was smelling the vix which Shasha secretly brought from her dad’s room. He didn’t like anyone touching his stuff. She gave the soup to Mum and went back to the kitchen. She opened the cat food cans and took the food to the patty. Every night four stray cats visited her. Today cats looked at her in a strange way. As if they sensed something. They meowed. Shasha didn’t talk to them. And went back to the kitchen. She put the leftovers and the garbage in the trash packet. She saw the gift wrap of the gift from her father’s colleagues. It was not from the official page. There was a card. A love sign with an initial. The delight of her father didn’t transpire into her. He lied. Shasha felt the piecing pain. She decided not to give her special Christmas gift to her father. Instead, she searched the closet to find something and to make a DIY. But she didn’t feel like searching. She decided to bake a cake for him. This was her first-time purchase online for her dad. But her gift Notebook looked so cheap in front of that customized gift. He might not appreciate such a humble gift. But he would receive the gift with the fake smile and would leave it on his table only to be covered with the dust. Just he did with the paper flower. From YouTube she learned to make a DIY Daisy flower. She made one and gave it to him. He left it in his room. Shasha remembered how to make bracelets from the clay bids. She made one and gave it to Mum. All these years she kept it in a special box. She wore it several times.


Shasha read the story “The Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry . She didn’t sacrifice like the characters in the book namely Jim and Della. But was her gift any less priceless than the gifts of the magi? She placed her pure love of a daughter in that gift. Shasha wanted to forget the night. Let this night be like the title of her Notebook “My external memory Disk”. She wished to forget and prayed not to retrieved from her internal memory. Let this memory do not stay in her mind. Shasha stared at the stray cats and they looked at her. The tears were about to flow. But Shasha controlled herself by saying “Everything happens for a reason”. Her internal memory disk only wanted to keep her caring father’s image. An imagery of her own creation. At night she wished her father with Christmas greeting. Then she wrote about her feelings in a diary. At dawn she stepped outside the house. She walked and crossed the Neighbours house and reached the community Christmas tree. There she left the Notebook “My External Community Disk”- and started going back to her house. Let someone better deserving have the gift.  Her father may not value the gift. But God has seen everything. In his eyes, her gift is not less valuable than the gift of the Magi. The lights were still on and Shasha looked back for one last time and started walking. The Notebook titled “My External Memory Disk” remained there waiting to be picked by someone who deserves better.


Tabassum Tahmina Shagufta Hussein from Dhaka Bangladesh was the International Fellow 2020 IHRAF(International Human Rights Art Festival,NY, USA).She is the  Poetry  Award winner of Korean Expatriate Literature 2021. She is the Bangla Translator, ITHACA Foundation Spain. Her poems have appeared in several literary magazines. She occasionally writes fiction. She is guest contributor to Different Truths, India. She also contributes to Our Time and The Good Morning print newspaper Bangladesh.


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