A Conversation with Uncle Claus

By TP Saran

Whether it’s the anticipation of decorating the tree, or buying presents for loved ones, there are few times of the year as exciting as Christmas. For youngsters, however, it’s the mystical character Santa Claus, also called Uncle Claus by some of his fans, that really fires the imagination and inevitably prompts all kinds of questions: Does he really have a white beard and red suit? Where does he live for the rest of the year and is it cold? Where does he make the toys he delivers on Christmas Eve? Just how does he get down the chimney? The list is endless. Our friend TP Saran had a chance to sit down with our dear Uncle Claus and during the conversation that followed he put to him some of questions the youngsters ask as well as the ones he has heard from people down here during the past rather turbulent months. Here, in his own words, are Santa’s answers…

* Hello, nice to see you again Santa. It’s indeed good to see you back, what with those hectic months gone by and the uncertain days ahead. Anyway, tell me, how are you doing?

I’m as fine as I can be since I was invented. Can’t you see my evergreen red cheeks and rotund tummy? And my trademark beard?

* Yes I can – but how do you mean, invented? Are you telling me you’re not for real?

Smart guy! You have the curiosity of a kid, I must say…OK, go on.

* Well, since you mentioned kids, let’s start with them, all right. They have so many questions about your beard, the toys you bring along, the chimney (they wonder if it’s indeed gravity that brings you down the chimney!), you know those funny questions…

No, no, no! Kids don’t ask funny questions, they ask the ones that matter because they’ve got that innocent gut feeling. You remember the scene in the movie The Sound of Music when Captain von Trapp and Maria come to a halt of their waltz and are looking into each other’s eyes? And their youngest daughter, five-year old or so, asks Maria: ‘Why are your cheeks so red?’ I guess they must have looked a bit like mine if you ask me, such copycats! But you get the point, don’t you?

* Aha! So you do sneak out and see movies too!

What do you expect me to do in the remaining 364 days? After all, I was made in human form. And from the beginning I was an adult, did not have a childhood…

* Now I get it! No wonder more and more people are saying you’re not real. How do you cope with that?

Remember what Abe Lincoln said? ‘You can fool some of the people some of the time, you can fool all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’ It was bound to happen some day.

* But you don’t mind do you, I mean, people not believing in you anymore?

Why should I? At least I make the kids happy, which is more than you can say about those ‘real’ guys who do bad things to them, you think I do not know? They are the ones who are supposed to protect the kids, but they are busy fiddling with them — when they are not killing them, that is!

* I suppose you do realize that the bad and the evil the people see around have to do with their perceptions, beliefs… and despair – and they don’t trust anyone anymore. Is it that bad, dear Uncle?

You bet it is! Truth, honesty, goodness – I am not the only one who’s not real, but at least I’m not fake: I deliver! The others put on a goody goody mask but look behind the façade and you see the rot. That’s why people have no faith in those guys who pretend to be on their side but are busy feathering their own nests or stabbing them in the back.  Have you not seen how one aspiring young politician has been dropped like a hot potato?

* Don’t tell me you keep a tag on local politics!

I have to, my friend. But let’s move on shall we.

* So, I guess you have brought along toys only for the ‘good’ boys and girls. Right? But, how do you decide who’s on the naughty list and the nice list?

I do not choose, for me all the kids are good. That is why I bring toys only for kids. Adults, they’re not worth it. Sorry if I am offending you, but I have to tell you things as they are. As far as you are concerned, I did say you have the curiosity of a kid, remember?

* Wow, thanks Santa, I am relieved! For one moment I thought you had put me in the baddies basket! But you do know that down here they guette zozo par so plume and pigeonhole people don’t you?

Yup, let me switch that translating chip on… there, done. You were saying about zozo…

* Yea, what I meant was it’s the people who wear the political garb who are drawing up the naughty list and the nice list. Do you have any idea how they come up with that?

Elementary, dear Watson, if you allow me to say so. It’s like, birds of the same feather flock together, you guys call this a proverb. The naughty easily identify with their own, and that list is therefore simply made. Whoever is not on that list, for whatever reasons, will necessarily be on the nice list. And that one’s shorter, if you’ve noticed.

* I and YOU as well can end up on either list depending on which side of the fence we are seen to be standing. Isn’t this frightening?

Maybe for you, not for me. I could not care less. Still, I understand your apprehension.

* We also have a few of those chaps in religious and/or academic garb who, not to be outsmarted, get busy come election time drawing up their own list of the “bad guys” and the others. Strange things do happen here…

I see that Bush’s influence has reached here too! Anybody talked about any axis of evil yet?

* Santa, I am the one putting the questions!

Nope, this is a dialogue, not a soap box. But anyway, there’s nothing strange about what these guys do: it’s all calculated. For all you know they are paid to do that!

* Ok, point taken. Let me give you what some are saying is good news. The LSE-trained economist-minister got the marching orders and there is now the new guy on the block – our good old and loud-mouthed Kee Cheong is already calling him names: “Pickpocket Finance Minister.” He is promising to triple per capita income by 2020. My wealth will go up three times within the next 10 years, or so did I understand him to mean. Now, that’s good news!

You didn’t get the gist of Kee Cheong’s thesis: income inequality will widen further, that’s what he means and it’s only the rich who will get richer, silly, not you! With that big hole in your pocket, what wealth are you talking about!

* I’m allowed to dream, ain’t I?

OK, keep dreaming. But I am applying for an Occupation Permit right away, try my luck why not. Maybe I will get on the proper list.

* There’s also the Primus Inter Pares shouting down the “British hypocrites” when he is not wielding the axe to weed out the perceived underperformers from the system. ‘Il a mis du temps’… some are saying, but better late than never, what’s your feeling?

Perceived? By whom? But if I were him I’d meet more people like you more often. Aren’t we having some serious fun!

* As you see, Santa, it’s not only the people who are in the business of mischief and evil, what the “hypocrites” had been up to over the years has been qualified as “State evil” for all sorts of purposes. Heard of the Chagossian story and WikiLeaks?… there are many more gruesome stories there in those leaks. Why do they do what they do, man?

It’s not gruesome. It’s the Truth, Revealed! Let me get that translating thing… here, this is it: chassez le naturel et il revient au gallop. Just an aside: we don’t have the equivalent in my native lingo, Inuit.

* What’s your take on the Chagos thing?

Smart move, taking the hypocrites to the UN, though you should have done it as early as the Seychelles did.

* Looks like we are in for some more hair-raising leaks from the embattled document-sharing site. Apparently it’s readying a release targeting that banking giant: the Bank of America. Seems the latter has punched in with several other financial institutions, refusing to handle payments for WikiLeaks for reasons best known to itself… Too bad the American ambassadors posted here earlier did not post cables to Washington on our own corporate giants! I mean, well you know…

The flock, man, the flock! All of them, the same, the same interests, get me?

* WikiLeaks or not, our doctors, I mean our spin-doctors can be called in to out-manoeuvre whatever havoc some whistleblowers are out there to wreak. You know that, don’t you?

You’re late on the game friend, I’ve known that a long time.

* Anyway, to come back to our “Primus…” guy – I mean the one and only “Vision-man” according to his ministers – he was right, after all, about the hypocrisy, the duplicity and mendacity of these people and their governments. But down here, he has lately been all praise for the “sincerity” of the MSM flock and of the ‘President d’Honneur’. The days of ‘SAJ Must Quit” are over, or so it seems for now…

Nothing wrong with succession planning, provided the vision thing is clear enough. Most important, though, it must be shared – and of course not with hypocrites, the local ones especially. That’s where separating the wheat from the chaff really comes in, if you get me.

* Forgive me for boring you with those tales about our political big boys. I really can’t help telling you about “la dernière trouvaille” of one of our local journalists, He’s discovered belatedly that « le peuple n’a que le gouvernement – et l’opposition – qu’il mérite ». That’s the price we’ll pay for his enlightenment! Now, what do you think of that? I mean about getting “l’opposition (qu’on) mérite » ?

Ouf, you’re straining my translator!

* Sorry about that old chap!

No that’s fine, but me old! Nowt! Yes, you were saying – the dernière trouvaille is old hat – now, that is old! – we always get what we deserve. Our destiny is of our own making – but remember: what goes round comes round. You will never get away from the wrong you do, and it does not matter that you may not be there to reap the reward of the good you do.

* I suppose you have to get going, with many more miles to go and promises to keep. See you same time next year, but do pick up some Creole vocabulary in the meantime because some time in 2012 we’ll have to do the talking in Creole.  I suppose you know that some of our French-trained academics are saying we should now breathe, think and talk Creole… 

You don’t mind if I stick to English, never mind the hypocrites, and if your country has any reindeer-sense you should be doing that too. Why do you think I am loved all over the world…

* Oh Santa, tears in your eyes – sorry, did I say something to hurt you?

No, no, it’s not you. It’s me only – don’t know how long I will be around…

* Mean, you won’t be coming next year?

With the ice cap melting, the forests dwindling, the snow retreating – the current white coat in Europe notwithstanding – where I will get wood to make my sleighs? And with no icecap my myth will explode. And I will be done for real this time. I did tell these guys not to invent me, but they wouldn’t listen. They go on telling these myths and fooling the people.

* Maybe the people like to be fooled anyways?

Maybe you’re kinda right… But pray for me, will you?

* Will try, but to who, to who?

Ask that guy Nietzsche…

* Published in print edition on 23 December 2010

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