Aimée Duchemin hears of the (French version of) the story of the little drummer boy, whose father is out to serve in the army. The young boy cannot live with the thought of seeing an empty house, and seeing his father away from home. He says a prayer, lights a candle in the house and walks down the snowy banlieue with his drum strapped on his shoulder, hoping to find a place quiet enough for him to play. The young boy hears a voice calling out to him :

"Child, where are you going ?"

The boy turns round to see if anyone called him, but he cannot see anyone. He soon understands that an angel is calling out to him, and he whispers :

"Yesterday, my father went to serve in the war. I don't even know why there has to be a war at this time. He and his friends went to a place far away, to the pace of the soldiers' drummer. Now, I hope that if I play something for the Lord tonight, He will smile at me and my dad will come home."

After searching, the boy finally finds a spot to play his drum, and he does. He closes his eyes and plays with fervour. After he plays, the angels respond in a drum chorus and tell him,

"Your father is home !"

The boy wakes up on his drum, only to find that he was dreaming. But he is greeted with a wonderful gift : his father returns home for Christmas and resolves to stay with him.
Aimée is touched by the courage of that little boy, and deep down in her heart, she is intrigued by that story. The unwavering faith of the young boy made God grant him a gift.

Meanwhile, she goes on with life in an institution of higher education ; she finds friends who are more than willing to get to know her and be by her side. They make her more than ready to face every day, and she holds a special place for them in her heart, just as she holds those that she loves.

December comes and Aimée wonders how this Christmas would be. She misses everyone, especially her mother, the very person who gave her the gift of rhythm. She does not know what to ask for, though deep down in her heart, she yearns for a Christmas well spent with the people whom she holds dear. She yearns for a chance to make her family and friends and teachers proud of her.

In church, during the Christmas vigil mass, she prays for the realisation of her deepest yearnings.

"I hope it isn't too late for me to pray for a new set of wings, so that I may be able to fly.
I hope it isn't too late for me to pray for an angel to guide me.
I know that by legal standards, I'm not a child anymore, and I wonder if you'd still listen to my prayer, humble as it is.
This Christmas, I want to give you the beat of my heart."

The final blessing is given. Midnight strikes and mass ends. Aimée places flowers on her mother's niche and walks home, alone, down the snow-covered banlieue. She hears Christmas carols as she walks home, and she feels slightly comforted by the atmosphere. But she knows something is missing.

She opens the door of her house and walks in. The lights are off, except for the Christmas tree lights and star-shaped lights adorning the living room. The merriness of the roads just dies down, and all is painfully silent once again. There are presents under her tree, presents that she had received in the mail. But something catches her attention - an unusually bulky, heavy gift box. Chances are that it wouldn't have fit into the mailbox anyway. Who could have put it there ? It has been years since she last received a bulky gift. Aimée takes a look at the box. It is white...... and white boxes have a painful connotation for her. There is a red ribbon on the box. Aimée's favourite color is red. She carefully undoes the ribbon, and then the wrapping, and finally opens the lid of the box.

She finds a very familiar object - the drum that her brother Antoine played in the fight against the Antinaissance. There is also a pair of sticks - with grips. The sticks that Aimée asked for back when she was five. As she takes out the sticks, a note falls on her lap. It reads :

Dear Aimée,

If you read this, remember that I'm always in your heart. I'm looking after you and I will always love you.

I know how much in awe you were of Antoine playing his drum. I knew how much you've longed to show me how good a drummer you were, and I know how much you'd have loved me to guide you. I'm sorry I had to go. Though remember that Antoine, Aurélie and I are in safe hands.

Antoine's death devastated me as much as it devastated you. I got this some time ago, after I requested for it... and I was hoping to give this to you as a surprise gift for Christmas.

Please, don't be discouraged because I'm not around. Remember, today is a celebration of Jesus' birth. He wants to come into your heart ; receive him. Don't hesitate to play your drum for him - he wants to listen to you, as much as I do. Perhaps more. Don't forget : the rhythm that you play should come from your heart, so give your heart to him.

Merry Christmas.
Love you lots.


Aimée, still seated by the Christmas tree, is deeply moved. Tears well up in her eyes. She had been through Christmases without the people that made up her universe. Determined to make her family and friends proud of her, she puts her phone on video mode, straps the drum on her right shoulder, silently breathes a prayer and begins playing.


As she plays, memories flow in. Memories of her childhood.

Aimée begins to remember that precious moment, back when she was three. That moment when her mother gave her the gift of rhythm. The very first time Aimée heard the beat of the drum. She was especially attracted because the sound was so familiar... every blow struck the heart. Ever since then, she did not know how to tell her mother that she wanted to play the drums, but she often hinted at it, asking her mother if she could keep the beat :

"Mom, do you think I can keep the beat ?"
"Of course, why not ? I'm sure you have a strong sense of rhythm."

But she never could bring herself to tell her mother what she was pondering upon. Even then, her mother understood.

Aimée reflects on Antoine's playing... He had just returned from the Elite Forces and he decided to leave his arsenal of weapons back in camp. He brought his drum home, and returned in uniform. The young Aimée was impressed to see him, and begged him to play something. After much thought, Antoine played his drill rhythm, for lack of anything else to play.

She was awestruck.

She recollects Antoine's death. Aurélie's death.

Her mother's death.

The bleak Christmases that she had lived through ever since.

She looks up to the ceiling, with tears still in her eyes. She closes her eyes and pounds on the drum with all her heart. The camera still runs, but by then, she does not realise that the video recorder is still recording. All of a sudden, she comes to an abrupt stop and breaks down.

A heavenly light gleams from outside the window and shines down on the heartbroken Aimée. Soon after regaining her composure, she realises that her video recorder was on all along. She quickly turns it off and tries to trim the end, but she cannot. After much hesitation, she decides to share it with her friends. She would just let them watch. And yet, she couldn't care less about the feedback because she knows, that more than her friends' comments, she has obtained reassurance from the Lord.

This is the rhythm she beats out for the Lord, in all earnesty.

This is the story of the not-so-little drummer girl.

NOTE : Aimée's story is highly based on my story. Though it's a highly idealised one. I hope to get that reassurance from the Lord too. And mom loved Christmas, and her favourite Christmas carol also happened to be "Little Drummer Boy". As I type this story, I look to the left, to that corner of the hall where she used to sit and admire the Christmas tree. I can't help getting all misty-eyed whenever I think of it, and I want to make her proud of me. I wonder what she would think if she were here, seeing me armed with my weapons of preference. Christmas seems rather meaningless... without her.


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