Lakshmi’s preschool Christmas show is on today, the first of many to come over the years. She was ready in her red blazer and top, the Red School’s uniform, complete with her pink sparkly jeans. We got to the school in time to take Lakshmi in. The adults were asked to come back at ten. It was easier to just stay in the car for the hour. Lavinia was fast asleep and the rain was relentless. By ten we walked to the entrance. The parents were already queuing up. At least we got our foot through the door, any later and we would have had to wait out in the rain or back in the car.
One of the teachers were selling the Christmas raffle tickets. I have never won anything in my life but Kavitha always manages to win something. And that too good prizes. Once we got tickets to watch the Nickelodeon annual awards show. That was the time when the Beckhams had just got engaged. Both in their prime and starting to become international superstars, they were invited to present awards along with other celebrities of the time. A show both of us thoroughly enjoyed. The raffle tickets are sold for charity and for the upkeep of the school and so winning a prize is just a bonus. Kavitha bought a couple of strips as we waited.
When the doors finally opened we took our seats and waited for the show to begin. The children walked in and sat in a semicircle. Lakshmi caught our eye and waved to us. After the introductions the singing started. Some children vocalising more than others. They seemed to know all the words to the songs. Lakshmi sat there like a little statue, her eyes transfixed to the floor twiddling her thumbs. Another teacher came on and got the children up and made them dance along to the songs. Most children got up and did their bit. Still no action from the Lakshmi quarter. We waited and waved at her. Her teacher prodded her from behind, but nothing worked. She sat there looking at the floor.
After the show we looked at her progress report and had cake with tea. It was time to draw the raffle winners. There were quite a lot of prizes to be won and once again Kavitha won a couple. It more than made up for the amount paid for the tickets. Over five to six times in fact. On the way home we asked Lakshmi what happened. “Were you shy? It is okay to be shy you know,” we explained. “Yes, I was shy”, she sighed resignedly “I didn’t want to dance”.
The Epping high street was buzzing. The Christmas market had come to town. It is going to be a busy weekend for the stall keepers as they try to sell the festive ornaments, decorations, gifts and delicacies. Christmas songs filled the air as we made our way through the lively crowds.
The Town Crier was busy making announcements. He stopped off near us to explain to a young boy, the history and duties of his job. Appointed by the courts in medieval England the town criers would announce important information and local bylaws that had come into effect. It was a method of communication in those days, especially before literacy became widespread. The term ‘shooting the messenger’ also came about from this as sometimes bad news also had to be relayed and harming the town crier was considered as treason and punishable by law. Dressed in eighteenth century attire and ringing his bell, he came across as a formidable character and Lakshmi wanted to get away as quickly as she could. Mr Appleton was the town crier who unofficially announced the birth of the three children born to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This made him front page news the next day and even across the world including the US news networks.
Lakshmi continued to sing “Jingle bells” as she happily followed me around the shops. She knows one more line now, a bit of a progress since last week. When the ladies in the shop started singing along with her she suddenly went quiet and shy again. With our shopping over, it was time to call it a day and make our way home.