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Monstrous coughing

If the Grinch couldn't steal Christmas, neither can the pandemic.
Antonio Díaz, student of the Degree from Philosophy of the School from Philosophy and Letters,
brings us a Christmas story. But this time, there's no Ebenezer Scrooge
or Christmas spirits. This is a story that will help us reflect on the true value of Christmas.
about the true value of Christmas

Monstrous coughing

Grandfather would have fits of rales and his veins would swell every time he sang. I didn't understand, then, why he was the one who livened up the Christmas parties the most. If the atmosphere died down a little, he would immediately run as fast as his legs would allow him to thunder his guitar with "Bethlehem, bells of Bethlehem...", until he would have a fit again. And the attack was followed by laughter. And the laughter would be followed by a scolding from my mother.

"Abu," I asked him one Christmas, "when you were a child like me, did you also sing so much at Christmas?"

He grabbed me under my armpits and snuggled me in his lap. He whispered in my ear, "When I was six little years old, Christmas was hardly celebrated."

Mother had already warned me several times about grandfather's inventions "to make himself interesting", but I insisted: -Why, who was stopping him?

-Well, there was a..." he scratched his head as he stretched out the "a"... "monster. A monster that wouldn't let him celebrate properly.

I sighed, thinking that my mum was definitely right, but I went along with it: -What was that monster doing, sucking your blood?

-No, it wasn't just any monster. It was... invisible. And it weakened you little by little until it killed you. 

As he said that last sentence he ran his thumb across his neck and made such a ridiculous face that I started to laugh and he with me. He went on to say that his grandparents used to scold him because he used to take off a rag that he had to wear in his mouth all the time. He put a napkin in his mouth as a demonstration.

-You always had to cover your mouth and nose so the monster wouldn't recognise you, it was the only way to defend yourself against it," he told me.

Monstrous coughing

At that I crossed my arms and replied: "That's impossible, grandpa, because you would have starved to death ,"which made him laugh until he ended up coughing in that way that scared mum so much.

He drank a glass of water to recover and went on to tell me that there was no parade that year, that the Three Wise Men came secretly, because the monster was very clever and took advantage of the situation to act just where most people were crowded. 

-You could at least play with the figures in the crib.

-Yes, but you had to wash your hands,"I frownedatthat point, but took it for granted and went on:

-And did you sing carols?

-Yes, of course. Well, we really try not to sing too much because..." At that point he cut off the explanation and fell silent.

I was still frowning, but his serious face made me feel sorry for him and I didn't question him any further.

After a long silence, I asked him, holding his hand:

-Tell me grandfather, weren't you very afraid of the monster?

At that moment he stared into infinity and said:

-Strangely enough, this monster was so rare that the older you got, the scarier it became, and not the other way round, as is usually the case.

I moved closer to his ear:

-Tell me grandfather," I said, lowering my voice, almost whispering, "Will that monster come back this Christmas? 

He fixed his gaze on my frightened face and squeezed my arms until I grimaced in annoyance, he said, punctuating every word:

-Even if he comes back, he won't steal our Christmas this time either.

Then he picked up the guitar and sang so loudly it was like he was trying to break his vocal cords, until he had another one of those coughing fits. This time mum got really mad at him.


Monstrous coughing


This story was published in the II Antología navideña de la School of Philosophy y Letras.



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