Wintry Fragrances

Sunshine kisses the floors of my house, mosaic floors, painted luminously with red, blue and green stones, and my feet get a degree warmer. I sit in the verandah, on a chair which we had bought some nine years from now, that day I was so happy we had new chairs; now they lie there, gathering dust, unless I go there, take the pains of dusting it, and sit on it. Two kids, one of nine, and the other, I think of nine as well, play badminton. They play it really bad, and they never touch the shuttle-cock. They are happy still.

There, on the road, a mother takes her child on a walk in the perambulator. The baby sits up and looks out, and raises its hands signaling to the mother to take it in her arms, while the mother, oblivious of all this, keeps walking, talking to one of her friends on the phone. A van comes in, and a thousand schoolchildren get down, shouting, happy for the fact that today was their last school day; it’s winter vacations from tomorrow. As I sit, a mynah comes and sits in the verandah, but as soon as I move a bit, it flies away, and goes and sits on the window sill of our neighbor, the fat but kind Mr. Abdullah.

Through the opposite window, she, smiles at me. She is inside a blanket, and she refuses to get down when her mother comes in. The mother sees me looking at her, and then comes to the window. I feel a bit awkward, but then she doesn’t say anything. She only draws the curtains and returns. Inside, I hear her scolding her for making friends with a boy like me. As her mother leaves, she comes, draws the curtains aside, smiles at me and signals me to leave, then draws the curtains back. Someone in the adjacent room rings bells. He pretends to the world he is a pious man, and yesterday evening, I saw him molest a girl.

The paper boy comes. He is very regular in his business. He takes a newspaper, folds it into a cylinder, then halves it like a boomerang; and there, he throws it. He throws it accurately enough to land into the balcony of the fifth floor Mr. Karim, who can shout at petty things like someone sitting on his scooter. The song playing in my walkman changes. It now plays a song by Mehdi Hassan, and it reminds me of the day when I first heard that song. It was the day when she had last talked to me properly. Then something happened, and I still do not know what it was that happened.

The fragrance of winter kisses me, it lingers around my soul, and asks me to come back to where I had left it alone. It asks me to go back to the winter years ago, when I jumped and laughed and shouted in happiness. I smile at it wryly, smelling it all the time, and promise it that I will fulfill its wish soon, very soon.


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