Sunday, December 21, 2008


I wrote, and posted this story in this blog two years ago. One of the few times I attempted a short story.

It was inspired by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and in the spirit of the season, I am re-posting it.

I have been cynical and grouchy and bad-tempered this year. So I hope that this little Christmas story, a tale about hope and redemption, will light up all those dark pages I have written. ( Will try to post a new poem soon, when the work in the office has return to sane levels)

photo by Bosela
image from



He stood on the train platform, waiting for the train to arrive. The large TV monitor above him flashed 10.00 p.m and that the train will reach the station in another two minutes. Two hours to Christmas and in two minutes his sufferings will end. All around him were people talking, laughing, giggling, lugging last minute Christmas shopping, all absorbed in the festive spirit.

He looked down at the shopping mall and the shops around the train station, where he had wandered, like a dazed man, for the last two hours. It was a tough decision to make. But the world was just too unfair to him. Why did his company laid him off while less deserving ones stayed? He was unemployed for nearly a year, not that he did not try to get employment. It was either they had someone for the job, or that he was too old. He watched as his savings dwindled, until it was gone. His wife had to go out to work at a fast food joint to help out, and he felt sorry for his daughter, for he could not afford a proper meal for her each day, let alone the computer she had so wanted.

Two months back, a man in his same situation had jumped onto a rail track, in the path of an approaching train, killing himself. The case was given wide coverage in the media, after the dead man’s plight was made known. Donations from a sympathetic public were made to the man’s family. Large donations. He hoped this will repeat with him. If his death will result in a better life for his family, it was a trade-off he would gladly make.

As he inched himself nearer to the edge of the platform, he felt a gentle tug at his hand. A little girl, maybe not yet ten, smiled at him, holding up a tin can. “Hello sir, donation to the poor?” For a child so young, her voice rang with a clarity he had never heard before, like a choral hymn he had heard once when he was young.

The little girl had jet black hair, pulled back in a neat ponytail and fastened with a floral band. She had on a pure white frock laced with gold trimmings. It was a rare outfit to see on a girl these days, what with their denims, shorts and camo prints. Her clear brown eyes shone with such an intense innocence and compassion he had not seen before. He dug in his pocket for his last five dollar note, folded it, and put it in the can. He squatted down and took a closer look at the girl.

She so reminded him of his daughter, they were about the same age. He noted that his daughter was leagues away from this one, but he loved his daughter all his life. There were almost tears in his eyes, as he pointed at the plain-looking tin can and asked her what charity was that. Salvation Army? Spastic Children?

The little girl smiled and pointed at the TV monitor above him. He looked up and instead of the usual ads for movies and train arrival times, a tableau of a person’s life unfolded before him. He recognized the person as himself. There he was at his wedding, laughing and holding his bride. The happy day when his daughter arrived. And then the scene changed, he was walking towards the edge of the platform, as if a few moments ago, the train screaming into the station. And finally, he saw his wife, gaunt, eyes swollen from tears, calling his name, and his daughter, hands reaching out for her father.

He wanted to say, no, stop this! He stood transfixed, as if a fossil frozen in time, a million thoughts tumbling through his brain. Suddenly, he remembered the girl, and turned his head to look for her. But she was gone; he was standing alone in a deserted train station.

When he looked up at the TV monitor again, it was flashing 10.00 pm and that the train will reach the station in another two minutes. All around him were people talking, laughing, giggling, lugging last minute Christmas shopping, all absorbed in the festive spirit. And then he felt a calm he had not known for a long time, covering him like a warm blanket, coursing all inside him. He knew exactly what he had to do. As the train curved into the station, he ran.

( to be continued...)

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 )

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspiring, beautiful, and timely for this time of year


23 December, 2008 22:03  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thank you, gel!

i think all the effort i spent on it is worthwhile. :)

23 December, 2008 23:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope the spirit of seaso bring hope


26 December, 2008 03:44  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

it will, Nasra!

let's hope the next year will be a much better year. :)

26 December, 2008 08:52  
Blogger J. Andrew Lockhart said...

good to see this time of year. Hope all is o.k. with you.

26 December, 2008 14:28  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Andrew, thank you!

i am o.k., just quite busy at this time of year. knocked off work at 8 p.m. today. :)

26 December, 2008 22:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautifully done.

31 December, 2008 03:37  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

cat, thank you! :)

31 December, 2008 20:57  

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