Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow memories

Snow beneath whose chilly softness
Some that never lay
Make their first Repose this Winter
I admonish Thee
~Emily Dickinson

A little bird whispered that snow is falling in Srinagar. The idea of snow flurries swirling around your legs is an incredibly delightful thought. Nothing warms cockles of the heart like the magical, almost surreal spectacle of a million unassembled snowmen falling from heaven! God’s way of asking us to reclaim some of our lost childhood -- and the innocence thereof.

As it continues to snow outside, the world appears subdued and fragile. Kangri is a cherry on the top. It is a very cozy, snuggled down, unwinding feeling. Nothing -- at all – beats it! There shall be places in Kashmir tonight with no electricity, I can imagine. And the candles burning in familiar kitchens elegantly put to shame all the candle-light dinners in swanky lounges, we expats frequent.

When I used to be in school the only fight people knew of was the snow-ball fight. One of the greatest joys in the world is to throw small orbs of snow at one other. The idea is to be quick on your feet and kneel down to make snow balls and aim them at your friends. Ofcourse your pals are equally determined to shoot their snow-balls at you. There is a sudden, sharp boyish rush to it. The pink of cheeks and salmon-like palms notwithstanding.

Peering from inside the windowsills to watch the snow pile up in the backyard is the stuff fairy-tales are made up of. When no potholes are visible. Just running miles of endless, clean snow. Snow that came overnight. It falls on old fences. Upon little eggs in the eagle’s high eyrie, while the bird-lings cheep happily. Wildbirds strut their stuff, exposing their iridescent plumage to God’s cottonwool.

Snow makes an almost medieval swirling descent. It is often humbling to see the flakes fall headlong on still waters of the distant pond, kissing the stillness. It snows on locked temples with cold deities looking a shade surprised. And on the countless sand bunkers that despoil our beauteous landscape. In every orchard and onto each lee. Snow falls on fresh moist graves with small kids in them. On abandoned army helmets upon the lonely hillside. In wetlands. Old chimneys. On our suffering. Our aspirations.

Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity, Takemoto used to say. In the nineteenth century Guy de Maupassant likened snowfall to a curtain of uninterrupted white flakes constantly sparkled down to earth -- this wrinkling wave, a sensation rather than noise, entanglement of light atoms which fill the space, covering the world. It appears no different in the last month of Circa 2011.

The snow-man has bits of charcoal for eyes and long after the children have forgotten about it, the figure stands outside, arms spread, like Jesus. It watches the tiny snow-globs come dancing down from the night sky, in hushed whispers. To fall on deer-backs. Upon naked trees. On defunct electric lines. In secluded terraces. Upon wet dog-snouts. Caressing the ladyfinger like icicles. On parched humans. Never failing them.

It snows on, in the eerie silence of the long wintry night.

© Sameer