Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Glitter In The Cards !

The coming of summer vacations in school often left the classrooms buzzing with excitement and thrill after each day's school-over-bell. All babbling out their plans for the long two months' holidays. Many of my friends had their parents arranging very well planned vacations, months in advance. They would go to hill stations of Nainital, Mussourie or Kashmir, to beat the heat, see snow fall and do snow sports.

My summer holidays were different. Stay at home, no peeping out till late after sunset, enjoy the cool of khus fixed windows and doors and enjoy lassi or aam panaa and surely take good cool baths twice or thrice a day.The only pleasure was sitting out in a our lawns in the evening and sleeping out in khatias set out in the lawns under open starry skies and I loved it all each day, though at times the heart pined for snowy cool holidays in some far off hill station where I imagined my friends enjoying the snow under piles of woollens.

This yearning made me collect cards and pictures that my uncle would send me from far off Canada, the winters and Christmas every year in that land. I would stay glued to the photos and pictures and remain fascinated seeing the snow so well painted with a sprinkle of glitter, while the hot summer winds dashed against our windows in the scorching hot afternoons of Allahabad.

I kept many such cards under my pillow in cold December nights too, and would often slip them out from under the pillow to look at the snow glittering in the cards, and think that may be some day, I too, will get to see the wonderful snowy winters of that cold country.

Today I am mother and grandmother, my children , grandchildren are all settled on the other side of the Atlantic, that is North America. To get to meet them and spend days with them I have often made trips to this country that lay in the cards of my dreams. The initial fascination became familiar leading to a loss of its novelty. I stayed through some winters some summers, but stays barely lasted a few months.

This year my stay has been unusually long. I came at the beginning of the Fall, went through the cold winter and now am entering Spring. Have been able to see winter in all its splendour and wrath, and the dreams that grew in my picture cards under my pillow for years has almost been fulfilled leading to 'familiarity breeds contempt' status. Winter with its beautiful coat of snow did not charm me as I had dreamt in all my young years. May be age is a factor, but I doubt if age can do so much to undermine a age long developed fascination for the country.

To see the first flurries were beautiful, falling silently all through the day and night, making the nights light up as day, was heavenly. The sun falling warmly on the earth made the exact picture of glitter that all my cards had. I remained charmed by it all. The temperatures started falling to the extremes. The beauty became a daily feature and soon monotony took its toll. Day in day out it was just snow and snow. Going out of the house meant loads of woollens; from head to toe, it was just layers of the heaviest warm coverings. It became so tedious, that I slowly gave up going out of the house on such days, in fact, peeping out of the window too. Staying indoors was not bad, but day in and day out to be affected by the cold outside was not working positively. Some cold snow-piled bleak days did not get to see the sun too;cloudy, grey, gloomy were those days. No matter how much strolls in malls we did, the whole body started longing to go back to its hot summers and sun burnt summer days. All the beautiful greenery was under sheets of white frozen blankets, no sign of green life anywhere. Skeleton of trees stood out in helpless desperation braving the snow storms day in and day out. The evergreen Christmas trees, though loaded with green foliage, were draped in gowns of snow, the picture reminding me of my beautiful cards that I would slip out from under my pillow in my cold December nights in India.

It felt dead all over, a grey dull sheet seemed to sap out life from every place; but life for its people, remained the same. The same buzzing in schools and offices and stores, a don't care attitude at the severity of the weather, I was amazed at the spirit of the people of the country. Only the beautiful parks remained dead and noiseless, the swings, the slides stood like silent sentinels of long lost fun and shrills of children.

This was for months, I would go out or look out of windows and wonder, how will all the greenery, the beautiful gardens come up after months of such cold burial. Passed December, January, change anywhere. Weather forecasts kept assuring Spring is round the corner. I too kept looking for some sign for its approaching.

Last evening, the sun seemed extra warm and welcoming. The temperature recorders in the house showed a good high. I could not believe it could really be so warm outside. I took courage and ventured out in a few warm coverings. Yes it was much better than what I had been experiencing month after month, but what struck my eyes, was all along the garden bed had sprung up a fresh row of green shoots of tulips, the flower that brighten the summers of Canada, all fresh and green, full of life and health as if screaming through their speechless outburst that nothing could stop them from reviving again and again. Those very beds under snow for months, had given way to dark fresh wet fertile soil and on it was this fresh picture of Life revived. So many school day poems came ringing in the heart.." in the heart of a seed, buried deep so deep, a dear little plant lay fast asleep.." as if all that poetry came to reality as I stood in admiration and appreciation at Nature's magic wand that never fails to teach us some bear on and move on.

I again felt that there is some magic surely in the glitter of the cards that lay under my pillow with so many dreams, all is not bleak and grim as it felt all these months, the grass is green on the other side, you have to wait to see it spring up with Spring.