The home that I grew up in was situated on the fringes of a beautiful lake dotted with tree-capped islands. Through my growing days, the waters that reflected the calm of moonlit nights and the shimmer of sunny noons, the gentle winds that kept our summers cool and the trees blossoming and fragrant — the beauty of which often went unnoticed as we lived in its proximity coursing through life that turned days into months.
Come December and we noticed the lake, because it disappeared completely under a thick white blanket of fog. December holiday mornings saw us children staring curiously at the lake that we believed was swallowed by the white winter monster that could only be vanquished by the golden blades of the late-morning sun.
The sight of the lake reappearing ever so gently until it shone under the might of the golden glory was nothing short of a magic. On those days we looked at the lake with renewed newness, observing every dancing ripple, every golden wave and gleaming green canopy crowning the islands, all of which had always been there on the fringes of our everyday life.
Many magical moments
This year, we have been witness to many such magical moments — the day when the fog cleared enough for UAE’s children to celebrate the joys of morning rush, getting on a school bus for a regular day at school; the day when we stepped out to enjoy a restaurant meal, the mall, meet friends and visit the EXPO too; and for me, that day when I met some exemplary teens whose creativity and wit have taught me as much as I have taught them, meeting my long-time virtual friend and more recently my neighbour bringing home Christmas cheer and a delicious cake — a joy so simple and small but nothing short of magic after months of feeling like we were pawns on someone else’s chessboard!
One more magic put us on a plane, not to where our parents have been waiting to meet us, but to another continent. Jovan, whose guests we were, skilfully manoeuvred his winter tires over the snow-caked road, the temperature dropping at every curve, snow falling harder in the midst of white wilderness, just when we screeched to a halt.
A fallen pine tree was being hauled off the road. Was this a blizzard or just another night on these mountain roads? Sid thoughtfully asked me if a dust storm was better than a snowstorm. “We will be fine,” assured Jovan, “what’s a sand storm like?” he wondered.
Caught in a storm
“Definitely not like the sandstorm pursuit in MI Ghost Protocol, “the husband assured attempting to thaw the cold silence inside the car. People were quick to lend a hand to haul the tree out of the way and a snowplow was making its way downhill having cleared our path ahead. “What’s January like?” I wondered. “Goes as far as -22. We stay home with cellars full of food, great heating, enough wood if it fails, no landlines but WiFi works OK, but help is always around,” he quipped reassuringly.
The next morning as we looked out of our warm room, we were in a white winter wonderland, the next hospital, market way downhill, the eerie quiet occasionally broken by snowplows and shovels.
People across the world battled uncertainties far removed from ours.
As the winter sun made its way up, the calendar had turned to a new day, a fresh start with no blemishes and mistakes in it, at least not yet, gleaming clean like the cleared road ahead of us. Maybe it was time I used a glass cleaner to erase the smudges for a better view of all that matters and all that don’t and a polish to shine and value all that I have.
Here is to fresh starts and a new year!
— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha