A hot mug of frothy latte warms my cold hands as I sit staring into its foamy cream, tempted by its aroma and comforted by its aesthetically pleasing presence. I am sitting cosy and snug on the couch on a chilly evening with soft lights and a good book to keep me company. I sigh contentedly. Thank God for winters!
I've always loved winters. From the surprisingly cold winters of Karachi, to the (usually) comfortable chill of Dubai to the biting frost of New York, winters for me are strangely tranquil and relaxing. New York, in fact, was the place where I first experienced a snowfall. It felt dreamlike when it began snowing in the dead of the night and as I saw the pretty sight of snowflakes descending from the sky, I couldn't help but remember the inimitable Robert Louis Stevenson who once wrote: "It was late in November 1456. The snow fell over Paris with rigorous, relentless persistence; sometimes the wind made a sally and scattered it in flying vortices; sometimes there was a lull, and flake after flake descended out of the black night air, silent, circuitous, interminable. To poor people, looking up under moist eyebrows, it seemed a wonder where it all came from."
When I woke in the morning, the world around me had turned a sparkling white colour and there was a soft blanket covering every withered tree and rooftop, just like I had seen in the movies. Everyone chuckled at my childlike wonder when I picked a handful of snow to eat it. It was light and refreshing just as I had imagined. After the snowfall I enjoyed taking long walks across the slush and snow, dressed to the nines in an overcoat and scarf, marvelling at how quickly the grime of the world had contaminated the white purity.
And in places where there is no snow, long walks as you trudge along in your woollies crunching over gravel can be a beautiful experience. Early in the morning when the sun is yet to shine bright, you notice the colour of the sky, the grass, and how perfect each blade moistened with the early morning dew looks. You listen to the morning birds, incessantly calling out to anyone who cares to pay heed.
I do detest the fact that the texture of my skin resembles that of a cardboard during winters unless I conscientiously slather moisturisers over it — or that my hair frizzes into an uncontrollable mess and emits static electricity when I brush it. However the arrival of this season also brings back some treasured memories. I remember supping on mum's soothing chicken broth and her signature garlic bread in the evening as we huddled around the table, warming our hands and our hearts with soup, love and laughter. Soon after that night would fall and we would turn on the tap to find very cold water to wash up with. It was only after a few (long) minutes that the geyser's heating would kick in and we would sigh with relief when tap water was hot enough.
And then as we cuddled into our duvets for the night, I would sometimes sneak a book and read in the still night under the lamp light — without the constant humming of the fan or the air-conditioner and relish how simple the pleasure of complete silence was. If I was found out by the elders I would be told off and the light would be promptly switched off. Otherwise, I'd wake up in the morning groggy and with circles under my eyes, secretly delighted with how the book ended.
The recent cold spell in Dubai, to me, has been a welcome surprise. The downside of course appears to be the fact that everyone seems to be catching a cold. Whilst I have to make sure runny noses and little cold feet are taken care of, and cardigans are taken to school, the frigid weather stirs up some pleasant recollections.
Mehmudah Rehman is a Dubai-based freelance writer.