By Umer Farooq Wani
Nature is bestowed with unique cyclicity and rhythmicity with which it unfolds its breathtakingly beautiful spectrum in the form of splendid spring, sweltering summer, calm autumn and chilly winter. Mother Nature is very kind and makes sure her children, all the species living on this earth are safe and secure. In my vale, nature is very kind to us. It brings forth soul soothing spring with an ever blossoming army of flowers; a warm summer with mercy of mercury, a calm autumn brings a shower of burnt chinar leaves and a sleepy winter its silence and drudgingly slow pace of life.
Imagine milky white snowflakes descending from the heavens and the vast expanse of the Himalayas opening its arms to welcome the heavenly precipitate to paint its canvas! Those milky white snowflakes which adorn the valley with angelic whiteness; the reverie which shriek the alarm bells of taer, kanger,kehwa and pheran.
Each time it is about to snow toward the end of autumn, a strange reverie and calm defines the atmosphere. Life loses its maddening hustle and bustle and a drudgingly slow rhythm sets in. We more often than not hold a grudge against the chill and discomfort of winter.
But I personally feel elated and joyous at the dawn of winter. It prompts me to take a stroll down the memory lane. What I used to do in my yester years. Those halcyon days of the past.
Let me take a trip down the memory lane and express those happy moments, the meters-long pheran, worn out of shape, that pot bellied kangri with bright coal cakes, that night-long lullaby sung by the shivering grandfather, and the snowmen in my lawn who would stare at me. My mother would yell at me when I would refuse to fetch the duo – pheran and kangri for her. She would grab me by her strong arms but I, kind of, would let myself yield to her, cozy in her warm lap and I would then crane my neck out of her pheran in sheer joy and merriment.
An army of cousins would surround me to help me make up my mind to play snow games. It was a far cry from modern day computer video games and facebook mania to which toddlers remain wedded to in their cyber cocoons. We used to have a rendezvous outside with nature, throw snowballs at each other, watch patiently dancing snowflakes that would succumb to earth with a soft thud, engineer snowmen with our crafty hands which would earn us a sound beating at home, go snow rafting on those snow dunes formed in lanes and bylanes.
Flashes of those yesteryears fills me with a sense of déjà vu.
On special occasions, my mother would organize new dishes and recipes, being a voracious eater I would throw myself at the sumptuous food. Friends would offer ice-cream made with caramelized sugar and clean white snow they would keep in steel boxes. Some mischievous friends would fashion a labyrinth of snow tunnels which would serve as asylum after an escape from our parents. Winter tuitions were yet another joy. We would carry book laden bags to listen to the noisy rumblings of teachers. Winter vacations were no less than a voyage to the heaven where we imagine ourselves as kings and masters of will.
It is then no wonder that our poets have personified snow in their literary ouvres and the deep emotional bond we share with it. I now understands why Agha Shahid Ali pertinently identifies himself as a ’descendant of man of Himalayan snow” in his beautiful poem, ‘ Snowmen’.
—The author can be reached at [email protected]