Winter will come back once again, and even if it’s late, I will still get to experience all my favourite little things all over again
There is always that one day of the year, when the air is a little cooler, and the sun a little dimmer. It’s the day when you go outside and realise that a lawn ki kameez isn’t enough for the temperature and the breeze, and with that cold morning breeze comes the yearly reminder and promise telling you that winter is almost here.
In Lahore, it seems this day is delayed more and more with every passing year -- it’s no longer even a reminder but a day eagerly anticipated by all people seeking respite from the taxing heat of the summer.
Ask a Lahori what their favourite season of the year is, and they’re likely to say winter. True, it can be relentless and unforgiving, and I’m reminded of the times I’ve had to leave the comfort of my warm home or classroom to venture outside into the opaque fog, summoning all my strength each time. I’m also reminded of how agonising the pain in my throat gets when I inevitably get a cold within the first two weeks of the season. But all of that pales in comparison to the little comforts and delights that culminate.
Winter is my favourite season too, and this is something I am sure to proclaim every single year whether anyone asks me or not. Perhaps it was growing up in a desert that did it for me, or perhaps it’s all the fond memories I have attached to this time from the past eight years that make it so joyful.
It’s the season of comfort. There’s the yearly ritual of prizing out the winter clothes and kambals and razais from storage rooms and spreading them out in the sun for a day to use them again. Another ritual is the inevitable fight with my siblings about which kambal belongs to whom, because I marked mine with a marker last year so you wouldn’t steal it again! But soon all of that’s forgotten, when the same kambal is used in the living room to keep all three of us warm as we snuggle up together to watch a movie.
It’s the season of food, and what glorious food there is. Dry fruits, gajraila, Kashmiri chai, what don’t we have? Suji ka halwa always becomes my staple, as I shyly ask my mother to teach me the recipe every two weeks, which always ends up in her doing all the work and me doing all the eating.
Going out on the weekends with friends to have chhalli, or with family to have fried fish are events without which the months seem incomplete. And then there are the self-orchestrated food parties, where I perfect my own brand of hot chocolate with the exact amount of chocolate powder and salt that I like at home. Or when my brother and I pick up marshmallows and chocolate biscuits from the market to recreate our very own bonfire, by hilariously toasting our marshmallows on the gas stove with the help of some toothpicks.
It’s the season of heaters, and one where you have to care about a different kind of load-shedding. Gas becomes more important than electricity, and I’m thankful for every minute I can keep the heater on its highest setting and sit beside it to cozily read my books. But then comes the dizziness from keeping it on too long and staying too close, and I’m forced to make the earth-shattering decision of having to let go and switch it off. That one’s always the most difficult.
It’s the season of a completely different type of fashion, where you have to look out for whatever trends are going to take precedence that year. There’s no better feeling than going shopping and finding the perfect sweater with the perfect colour combination, or shoes that are comfortable and keep me warm at the same time. The tamer and more mature colours of the season are always easier on the eyes for me, and I feel utmost joy in experimenting with them.
It’s also the season of self-care, when the long nights and short days make us want to sleep in a little longer, or stay indoors with family for longer. The overcast and gloomy days force us to take things a little slower, and be a little gentler with ourselves and everyone around us. Some may find themselves weary in this gloom, but whenever I’m taking a walk in the haze of twilight at 5pm, the peace of the moment soothes and reverberates in my soul.
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But it ends just how it starts, as the first hot day of the year arrives, and I’m forced to discard my jacket on the way to campus. I try to fight it like a stubborn child -- I’ll keep my kambal out even as the temperature rises, and continue to wake up at five in the morning to experience that cool breeze one last time, but soon that too goes away. Every time this happens, I regret taking all the little comforts of winter for granted -- I should have made more smores with my brother, and taken more walks after maghrib. I should have bought that sweater I liked so much in the store, and had more hot chocolate. But by then it’s too late, and the taxing summer heat begins to seep back into our lives.
What remains is the promise that my favourite season will come back once again, and even if it’s late, I will still get to experience all my favourite little things one more time.