As Christmas approaches, I always go back to some of the ageless Christmas stories I grew up with. Yes, there is Charles Dickens’s popular classic – ‘A Christmas Carol’… and there is O’ Henry’s immortal tale – ‘Gift of the Magi’. It would be very difficult to erase these imprints from my mind… They will, forever, remain etched there… Yes, making Christmas a little more inspiring, each year!
One more Christmas fable comes to my mind, today…Fredrick Thury’s – ‘The Last Straw’.
The hero of this story is Hoshmakaka. Translated it into our ethos, it means Hoshma uncle! He is an old, tired and sick camel… with painful knee-joints and grumpiness. Still, like many of us, he has a false a pride… which makes him get carried away easily by praises of those around.
One day, Hoshmakaka hears through the desert a voice that he is chosen to carry gifts of the Wise-men to the new-born King… the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Hoshmakaka knows in his heart that it is too long and tedious a mission… and he is too old, tired and sick to carry it out. Yet, when the voice keeps prodding him with the lure that it is a ‘great honor’ and not a ‘great burden’, our Hoshmakaka, finally says ‘Yes’.
A new vigor enters his heart and Hoshmakaka sets out on his long journey across the burning-by-the-day and freezing-by-the-night deserts. “I have the strength of ten horses, you know,” he boasts before the young camels along his way. The young camels know, how foolish the old Hoshmakaka can be… that they keep goading him, keep pumping. Carried away by all this misplaced praise, Hoshmakaka keeps accepting more and more load on his back along the long journey. Men, women and children – all keep giving him more and more presents to carry to the new-born King, the baby Jesus… and, Hoshmakaka doesn’t refuse anyone!
The load on the back keeps mounting… and Hoshmakaka has, now, come to the breaking point… He is unable to carry it any further… He is about to come on his knees, any moment!
And, this is the time, when a little child offers him the last gift to be carried to baby Jesus: a little straw for baby’s bed!
“No, I can’t take any more,” Hoshmakaka cries in frustration. Then, he relents… He accepts the last gift – the last straw – for baby Jesus and reaches the stable in Bethlehem… On reaching there, he simply collapses… but not before he is touched by the tender hand of baby Jesus… Not before the false pride and foolishness go away to make way for humility and wisdom...
Hoshmakaka realizes what a great blessing
the journey had been…
How special he was, in deed!
And, that is also the moment, when the grumpiness and gloom go away from Hoshmakaka – ‘the chosen one’!
The Last Straw has brought Hoshmakaka to his knees…
And, it is for his good!
This is the story for me… this Christmas…
This is the ‘gift’ I am told to carry to you, today!
Pics. Mukesh Ahuja