So, it is winter time, and kids are over the moon and eagerly waiting for snowfall. I used to have the same level of excitement for snow during my childhood. The intensity of the cold during “Chillai Kalaan” (the 40-day harshest period of winter) wasn’t bothering me that much, instead, it was giving me contentment as my parents used to say that if the snow falls in “Chillai Kalaan” then it won’t melt until March. My friends and I would go to the fields covered with white gold snow and make two teams throw snowballs at each other. We would also make snowmen. I’m not going to lie, we were ruthless enough that we used to put the snow inside the clothes of our weakest friends in our circle.
But that’s not it, there are so many memories connected with winter and childhood. The best thing about winter was that our parents were totally against our will of going outside and stopping us to remain under the blankets in our rooms, our parents used so many tricks. A famous and most popular trick of theirs was to scare us with mythological stories of ghosts, snow-loving ghosts. Winter was and is indeed fun for kids may be for employees and employers as well, but for laborers, it’s not less than a disaster. Anyway, we all have heard different stories during harsh winter days back in our childhood, and sporadically I wonder if those stories are true.
Allow me to share one or two stories with you people here to bring back a sense of nostalgia.
The first story revolves around a dangerous and famous character, ‘Rantas’. It’s a female character that has an ugly as well as scary face. It has long hair, a long nose, red eyes, and two long teeth. Rantas has so many strange things.
The sexond story was that there once lived a man named “Machk Ruen” who was abducted by Rantas. It was winter and snow had covered it. Machk Ruen and his wife were sleeping when suddenly they heard a knock at their door followed by the cries and weeping of a child. It was undoubtedly Rantas using the voice of a child. “Please uncle, open the door, it’s cold outside, please,” Rantas said.
Machk Ruen got swayed emotionally and decided to open the door as he was unaware of the ghost, Rantas. His wife tried to warn him, but he didn’t listen and opened the door. Then Rantas showed her real identity and took him with her on her shoulder. Rantas then abducted him and kept him in her cave. She then married him and had some kids. Rantas brought some animals like cats, dogs, etc for Machk Ruen which he was supposed to eat in his lunch and dinner. After a while, he got his hair so long and his nails much lengthy. One day Rantas was not in her cave. As soon as Machk Ruen noticed that she is not in the cave, he decided to escape, but a big rock was a great stumbling block that was kept there as the door of the cave. The rock could move only on the signals of the magical “Comb” of Rantas. Fortunately, he found the comb and ran away.
Have you ever heard any stories about Rantas?
Snowfall is the most loved part of winter. It’s loved by all but not liked by all. Just like the mythological stories, winter too is scary and terribly grave for some people and for all those living things who can not speak. Let me be the voice of the voiceless. We are at least able to elevate our appetite with little or much food, but birds and all the other land animals have nothing during winter as snow covers everything. They even remain and roam around with nothing over their heads. So it’s my humble request to you all, please provide animals some food instead of shooing them away. They too have a life. People suffer in winter. Daily wagers, laborers, etc are not lucky ones, so they have to face starvation.
If you ask me, what is the scariest story that I have ever heard or read, I would probably say, “Poor in winter.” It’s a real-life story that we often see around us. The story of Rantas may force children to remain inside, but the story of the poor in winter won’t let any adult remain inside and watch people dying because of the basic facilities that they are lacking. Hope this write-up made you nostalgic, and more than that conveyed a message.
Mahfooz Ahmad Bakshi is a columnist and novelist from district Ganderbal. He can be mailed at [email protected]