Thank God you are back dear winter. All news channels are busy covering snow fall on hill tops and showing tourists going crazy in Murree playing with the snow and enjoying the hot beverages. I hope you understand the intensity of love that we, the heat stricken and sun scorched people of the east, have for you. Having tasted the temperatures of June, we welcome you like no one else on the planet. Gossip of westerners not fancying you much have reached your ears, so hopefully you would value our love and reciprocate it by showering us with all your bounties.

And look how the displeasing, sinister smog has left with just your first rain. What an unnatural phenomenon this smog was, an unwanted addition to the dictionary, a distorted fusion of ugly smoke and romantic fog. Uniting the pleasant with the unpleasant always causes confusion for thought processes. I know the devil who caused this could be none other than the mutation. I always feared this mutation wouldn’t restrict itself to sciences only and would invade the frontiers of literature and domains of language one day. Anyways, bidding adieu to smog is just the end of it. Let us talk here of the pleasant things only. There is so much I want to share with you and remind you of that I am afraid I might cross the word limit.

Of all the near fifty times that we have met, no two meetings were the same. With years added to my age each time I would see you in a different hue and my movement on the globe would further allow me to meet you at different rendezvous all the time.

The earliest flashbacks from child hood are of colourful caps and sweaters that moms used to knit on needles, and of wool balls and knitting magazines that were everywhere in homes. Like secret recipes these knitting patterns were precious commodities and were exchanged only when a better design was available. Sleeping in thick heavy shaneel quilts and waking up to half boiled eggs served in tiny egg-pots was the way with winters. Both of these things, the shaneel quilts and egg-pots are a thing of the past now. I still remember the walk to school in those freezing foggy mornings. Mist and fog would lend my ordinary village the aesthetics of a fairyland. It was a short walk along the village canal. Because of the canal the fog was heavy in this area making everything hazy and dreamlike. The path all covered with brown crunchy autumn leaves that we loved to crush under our feet, ripe yellow fields of mustard on one side and clouds of fog rising above the quietly flowing stream on the other, distant half visible beautiful red structure of school, and the very early morning hour with no one around, would make me wish this small walk to never end.

The next memorable meeting was in Rawalpindi. Although you were a little harsh on Pindi-wallas, but as gas from Sui was plenty and heating the rooms was never a problem people did not really mind. Sometimes around mid night, sitting in an old FX all covered in the blankets, as the car did not have the heating facility, we would head for Islamabad to see the big city life. It was almost always a wrong decision as everything would be pitch-dark in the capital so late. So feasting on a fresh hot Grato Jalebi and sipping a cup of doodh patti from Murree Road we would come back home. The urge for a hot steaming mug of coffee in winters could even take you to Murree, as coffee never tastes better than in the chilling winds of the hills.

The best surprise you gave was however in Balochistan. In Muslim Bagh, a small district known for its apple orchards, you surprised us with snow. Wind used to blow really hard there. Every winter windows and all other openings were sealed with plastic sheets to prevent the gale entering the homes. Quetta stoves were used for heating with coal brought in from the nearby mines. Clothes hung on lines for drying would freeze and become hard. We were so used to seeing the all-brown-landscape around that one morning you really astonished us by turning everything to sparkling white with snow. The road, the electricity wires, bare branches of trees, roof tops, distant mountains every single thing was covered with fresh baby snow. I had never seen miles and miles of snow covered plains and acres of nude apple orchards turned white in snow. Surly it was nothing less than magic and one cannot but admire your ability to transform the surroundings.

Gilgit with its below minus temperatures, however, would get melancholic in winters. All the air and land routes would often shut down cutting Gilgit off from the rest of the country. The sun would take a long, long leave and would not show up from behind the tallest mountains. At such times the hot soups, freshly made breads, and pies made with locally grown walnuts would keep one going. Melancholic is what you make westerners too with long spells of cold sun less days. They say it is the reason why all their celebrations like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine, and Halloween etc., fall in winters to warm them up and to bring back life to their gloomy days. The other day I was showing my father pictures of Christmas decorations on Oxford Street in London from my last trip and he told me that back in 60’s when he was there these decorations were done with hundreds of heavy glass chandeliers. Well! It must have been a sight.

For us Asians, your love cannot die down or diminished. Because without you dear winters, so many things will become meaningless. The talk of gajjar and dall halwas will be so irrelevant. What we would do with our kashmeri shawls, and who would care for a cup of cream of chicken soup in July like weather? Kashmiri pink tea wouldn’t taste the same. Ladies, who already go crazy over lawn suits sales in summers, would go crazier when left with only one season sales. After all, the air conditioners and fans do need a break. Thank you so much winters for rejuvenating us and giving us the much needed break to face the sun again in the summers.