Winter has finally arrived in my city, Kolkata. The mornings are misty with the sun tiptoeing slowly into vision making the distant scape clear. The sun has lost its usual tropical warmth though, its rays feel comfortable now as one steps down in the street. The morning soon gives way to afternoon; since winter solstice (21st December) in the northern hemisphere of the earth is approaching, the length of the day is decreasing gradually. While we enjoy winter as it comes as a special guest who stays not more than two-three months in this part, the short-living daylight creates a melancholy effect on my mind for no definite reason.
It’s precisely the time when the evening sun disappears among the trees all of a sudden leaving behind a faint trail and the vespertine shadows creep in steadily to overpower the weak twilight, I feel cold, very cold. All seems unstable, quivering as dry, shrivelled leaves, splotches of shades and flakes of light interchanging their positions constantly. My mind stays in this state for a few minutes for as soon as the darkness of night evinces, the nyctophile in me breathes again easily.
It’s a wonderment to me that in spite of my love for darkness and night itself, I do not feel at ease at those particular moments. If you ask me why I don’t like daytime, I would, instead of belabouring you with the demerits of mornings (I like mornings, in fact. But, I love nights and, that makes all the difference) rather point you out at the quintessential characters of nights. Night– majestic in its simplicity, emphatic in its admonitions. It’s the light that often blinds us, not the darkness. It helps to concentrate, to introspect.
It’s said that the olfactory lobes catch and store the deepest of memories. Winter has a smell of its own. A concoction of fresh seasonal vegetables, oranges, freshly baked cakes and cookies, peethas (a type of Bengali delicacy prepared during winter) heavy perfume of dried leaves as you tread on them and nostalgia! Not that I happen to smell together but each one, even singularly, makes me remember the days of childhood. They, in a jiffy, trigger memories galore; of spending Christmas holidays in my maternal grandma’s house, of sitting under a tree in the afternoons with a bowl of oranges and a book, of sipping ginger-tea in the evenings, of listening to fairy tales in the nights from granny. And, that tristful feeling at the moment when the crepuscular sky moves towards night’s black fraternization.
Winter, sometimes, awakens all the memories and sorrows. Perhaps, from days unknown.
“Wynter wakeneth al my care,
Nou this leves waxeth bare;
Ofte I sike ant mourne sare
When hit cometh in my thoht
Of this worldes joie, hou hit goth al to noht.”
(A medieval winter poem, anonymous)