Author: Saadut
•10:52 PM

Early morning peeping half open eyes, rubbing the night vapor of the window pane with my palms, creating wide path like lines on the moist glass; that wide, gleeful expression would overtake watching snowflakes, like fairies dancing in their fall and spreading out on the ground. In the far distance strange images of masked aliens, fighting heroes, fleeing damsels would be created in running patterns of this snow fall, which seemed to have invaded and overtaken from the end of that infinite horizon till my very window still. Arching branches overburdened by laden snow, dropping over each other were bending in humility, like prostrating for a prayer with a burden of a lifetime on their backs.

By the far right corner of the garden, a pomegranate tree, bound by father in autumn strings to save it from winter burdens, rose into a white snowy dome perching far above its size, like extending to call the sleeping for an early morning assembly. But in freeze dead garden there were no souls heeding its call. Most of those who lived in this garden had fled the autumn fall, leaving behind withering crisp leaves that would give themselves to earth. The remaining, who had not fled, were hibernating in winter fright, barricaded in the same autumn strings, that held portions of venous branches in skin peeling tight packs. It was tough to figure out what hurt most; the skin peeling strings that attempted to save them from winter blizzards or the inevitable frost that was sweeping across the garden.

Packed cosmonaut’esque in cold ready, frost defying gear, mother would ensure that no part of us was left to the mercy of winter. Neck closing pherans cloaking overweighing woolens that often made our figures look far larger than our tiny bodies, warm caps that ran over our red blowing ears only exposing the earlobes those hung as corner receivers to be centered by redder pointing noses, which often dripped as moist at the windowpane vapor.

In spite of instructions that we were not to venture out from our carefully warmed rooms, we would seek the first opportunity to dash out, unheeding the shouts that followed.
Tiny footsteps would race over white spreads of snow, creating fleeting patterns in chasing voices of mother, who would be worried of the winter demons running faster than we could and catching up on us. I stopped by the evergreens that bordered our garden and shook them to rid them off their white robes, to bring out patches of green, drooping, wet and bathed leaves in this endless white. Behind us, the edges of our wide and tall green gate were laced in white linings, like some straight sketches over a huge canvas. My brother and I tried footprint sketching on snow, creating random images on crisp white sheets; some circles here those were punctured with two dots resembling eyes, drawing lines on uneven sides to make arms, pathetic attempts at drawings that were soon overwritten by celestial erasers in falling white, that overrode all our attempts. Covered on my shoulders and head by moist snow that created white patches I shrugged off and jumped to drop fall on the ground, wanting to have the snow fall directly on my face. In extended arms my open face tried to look up towards a silent heaving sky, feeling like a child who looked up his mother, extending, opening and holding to feed her kid from the bosom. I closed my eyes to feel an astounding silence all over, there was no chirp, no voice in the garden where everything, every word had fled to this winter moment. Every window that over looked this garden had been securely latched to deny the winter birds any hope of a morsel; these birds sometimes came calling, bearing heavy armory of fatigue, but left disheartened when their calls went unheeded. These birds from across the borders.

Finding myself lonely in the middle of a cold damp desolation, I opened my eyes again, only to find that my brother was stealthily walking up to our wide and tall green gate, wanting to open the narrow door within it, without any noise. But the narrow door creaked, like the moan of an unclothed man being dragged in winter against his will. And I ran up to my brother.

On watching me approach he stopped, withdrawing his hands from the narrow door knob. I, attempting bravery over my younger sibling, ended my hands over the knob and slowly fought my fears over the creaking sighs of the narrow door. Outside, the wide road running parallel to our gate, on our right, was all white till the eye could see. There were no tracks, no footprints, no markers on this wintry seemingly unending white road, but for the almost invisible bend far ahead that turned slightly left as it merged into a four way, often leaving the traveler in a destination dilemma.

Our keenness to try a few more footprint patterns outside the gate and a pitch silence was broken by a loud thud ; accumulated snow banks over heaved roofs were slipping with all their force on the ground, close to where these extended roofs would mark their aim. We froze, as if those winter demons had finally outpaced and caught with with us.  Then realizing that these were rooftops shrugging off some white burden from their shoulders, my brother grabbed a snowball and flung it across, aiming towards these roof edges, as if in revenge for breaking this silence. Soon I had joined him in the ‘free snow ball aim contest’, aiming across the road. Between the long pauses of the few snow thuds and our frequent gleeful shrieks, a white armed jeep suddenly broke the lull of this road, drawing ugly traces over virgin whites, while some of our snow balls hit its windowpane. Screeching of brakes, our benumbed freeze and that scary dash we made, realizing that some people had disembarked in our pursuit. We heard some cries, loud shouts; could not comprehend in fear what they were. As we ran back inside and pushed shut the narrow gate, a commotion grew behind it; the gate shook violently, some kicks were forcing on the gate, and soon it gave up. By the time we were inside and mother scurried outside, huge boots of armed men were running crazy inside a stunned garden, trampling all the patterns that tiny feet had created earlier. The decent white of our path had been invaded by a dirty, grayish slush that was punctured at odd places by huge jackboot prints; very obnoxious and threatening. The dome by the pomegranate tree had collapsed in fright. The window pane, on which by the morning I had created wide path lines with my palms on overnight vapor glass, had been smashed with rifle butts. And with it had been smashed our winter dreams.

Those of our garden who had left the winter to its ordeal never knew of the glass splinters and the hurt they caused; those who hibernated to seclusions of fright never knew the freedom of fresh snow, even if this freedom was momentary.

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