Georgyiv was travelling to the North Pole, oh he was off to meet Santa and the elves and gnomes,swish swish, the sleigh cut the snow, then he glanced upon Santa and said ‘oh no’! Santa was balancing his enormous satchel, the toys were falling out and……

BOOM! Georgyiv woke up to the sound of a bomb being dropped somewhere in the distance. He rubbed his eyes and hugged his father, Igor, who stirred in his sleep. Igor, his wife Katryina, Georgyiv and Georgyiv’s little sister Ganna were one of the thousands or millions of families, displaced by the war that had been declared on Ukraine, courtesy a Russian megalomaniac. Just last Christmas Georgyiv and his little family were safe and warm, around their Christmas tree at home. This Christmas they found themselves taking shelter in an underground metro, at the mercy of NGOs.

“Mom, I am hungry”, cried little Ganna. Katryina sighed and rummaged in her duffel bag for a cookie that she knew she had saved for one of the kids. Food was scarce, drinking water even more so. They were forced to make do with whatever was being doled out to them. But what of the children! Who could explain the concept of war to a child…or the need for it. The reason baffles even grown, sane adults.

“Where is that cookie I?” Katryina asked to no one in particular. “I think I ate it last evening”, whispered Georgyiv.  SWAT! Katryina couldn’t help herself from smacking Georgyiv’s hand. “You should have left it for your little sister,” she reprimanded him. Georgyiv’s eyes filled with tears. He got up from his  makeshift bed that was just a sleeping bag on the cold floor and decided to take a small walk. The cramped confines of the underground station was enough to make a grown man cry. Infants bawled almost all night long, to the despair of all the hapless souls cramped up in that place.

Georgyiv had not ventured far when he came upon an old man, he had not seen before. The old chap seemed to be muttering to himself clutching a pair of worn out boots. Intrigued, Georgyiv, an ever friendly boy, ventured towards the old man and softly asked, “Sir, are you okay?Are you cold?”

The old man looked up, with the bluest of eyes and said that he was fine but he had word that his son was killed in a skirmish in Kyiv. The boots he held had belonged to his son when his son  had been younger. The old man had no one left in the world. Then he placed the boots in Georgyiv’s hands and told him that he would like him to have his son’s boots. Georgyiv declined at first but the old man insisted saying, ” My darling son loved to travel and I know that you do too!” Georgyiv thought it was odd that a stranger knew this fact about him.  He put on the boots and they fit like a glove, infact the little boy was glad to receive something new, even though the boots were old. He pranced around in them, went back to his ‘bed” wearing them.

Georgyiv was in Agra, India, at the Taj Mahal, looking at that wonderful monument he had only read about in books. He was approached the huge marble edifice with a smile on his face and a flutter in his heart. He remained there for as long as he could before he began shaking…..

“Georgyiv, wake up, it’s time for your bath, ” called out Igor. Georgyiv woke up, startled. He had been so sure that he was in India, how did he end up in this underground station. He woke up , less grumpy than usual and even kissed Ganna good morning. He went about hopping and skipping, for his cold bath, his feet still firmly planted in the boots. He and the boots became inseparable.

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