The ultimate Christmas gift

By HH Mohrmen

I thought this is one story that will silence media critics for always blaming media of over sensationalizing news and patronizing sex and crime. Collectively, media in the state is often blamed (especially by the powers that be) for portraying only the wrong side of the story. Journalists are blamed as being obsessed with sex and crime and at times held responsible for all the bad news published or broadcast as if the media is the real perpetrator of the crime. And oh yes! The public had even come up with aphorism such as ‘trial by the media’ when the press persons are only doing their jobs. Then I found this story which I think has the potential not only to be a lead story in the print media but will also occupy prime time slot on the electronic media and more importantly will be able to prove media critics wrong.

It was a story which was first obscurely carried by certain vernacular paper and I shared the story with B.R. Blah Assistant Producer of PCN when I chanced to meet him in a seminar at MLCU. It was a very touching story, unfortunately the news did not specify where the incident actually happened but simply reported that it happened in a certain village in the Amlarem Sub division. Blah was also fascinated by the story and since the incident is believed to happened in a certain village of War Jaintia area, he requested that I try to locate the news for PCN. After few weeks of trying to establish the story I was invited by the office of the District Mission coordinator SSA Jaintia Hills to deliver a talk at a workshop for teachers and community leaders, held at Ka Syiem Jingsuk School Amlarem. I thought lady luck is smiling on me because teachers and community leaders from the entire Amlarem sub division would be at the meeting and there couldn’t have been a better opportunity for me to trace the story. It appeared like it has come me in a platter.

It was at the lunch time that I decided to try and see if any of the people present at the workshop have heard of the story. A teacher from a village in the elaka Satpator told me that story was so moving it touched her deeply. When she read the story in the newspaper she actually wept, but she could not tell me the exact location where incident occurred. Almost every one present admitted that they have either read the story or have heard people talking about it but nobody was certain where the story really happened. Some suggested that it happened in Darang; still others were of the opinion that it happened in Chkentalang, Pamchadong and Pdengkarong but without any certainty. On reaching Jowai I immediately called PCN’s Blah and informed him of the development. I told him that we seemed to have reached a dead-end as far as the story is concerned but he persuaded me to continue looking for the story. He also added that the story would be appropriate for PCN’s special Christmas episode.

Then I thought to myself, ‘I don’t get it, how can a tragic love story be a good Christmas story?’ My initial intention was to run the story and prove to the world that the media in the state not only carries bad news but it also gives equal attention to good news. By now everyone who cares to read this piece would be anxious to know what the story is all about. Well, to begin with it is a sad love story which ended with the death of one of the lovers. He generously gave part of himself that the one he loved so dearly could live to see the world. The story says that there was a young man who was madly in love with a blind girl in this nondescript hamlet. He was told that there is a hope that her blindness could be treated and she could see the light of day if she could only afford the treatment. He decided to help his beloved and then marry her; but he also had to make extra effort to make it happen. In order to earn enough money for the medical treatment the young man went to work in some coal mine where he could earn more than he did doing menial jobs in the village. After working for a few months in the coal mines he had saved enough money and went back home to inform his girl friend of the good news which made everybody happy. But as luck would have it, he fell ill and was taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with cancer and was told that he had only few months to live. In spite of the great ordeal that he had to suffer during the last days of his life, he decided to complete what he had begun come what may. He donated his eyes to her. After he was declared ‘brain dead’ both his eyes were removed and given to the young lady he loved. But he had told everyone that she should not be informed.

The story goes that after the operation before the nurses and the doctors could remove the bandage that covered her pair of new eyes, they asked her whom she would wish to see first? She answered that she wished to see the person who helped her to see again.

Christmas is the time we give gifts to our near and dear ones, it is the season of love and gifts. For the believers it is the occasion to celebrate God’s generosity who gave his ultimate gift of love to the world in the form of the savior in a manger. But the Christmas message that even the non-Christians can share is that Christmas reminds us of the ultimate gift that God gave us – the gift of life. I have a different take on Christmas… for me Christmas (I do not intend to demean the significance of this religious festival for the believers) is the time to be thankful for the gift of life.

For the many readers of the Shillong Times who are not themselves Christians, one reason to celebrate this joyous festival is to remember that Christmas is the story of a child from a humble beginning who rose to be a prophet; a saviour. It is a story about the potential of each and every human person to do good and to try to be the best that we possibly can, no matter how humble our beginning is. In the words of the gospel writer, ‘we are the light of the world’ so what is important is what we can give in return for the gift of life. Each and every one of us has the capacity to do something to make another person’s life better, like the young man who gave his eyes for his girl friend to see the light again. This season reminds us of the sacrifices we made and continue to make for the betterment of our near and dear ones and for the community at large. Let us not hide our lights under the bushel; let it shine, no matter how faint the light it emits. Thank you Bah Blah for helping me realize that the ultimate Christmas gift one can give, is to help one another and gift the best that one can offer to the world. Merry Christmas all!

(The writer is a social researcher and an environmental activist)

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