The chilling cold seeped through the many layers of clothes I was wearing. I rubbed my hands to keep them from freezing… My nose had turned reindeer red, and I snuggled it inside my muffler. It was cold!

We all had hoped the snow would fall… the previous year had been a difficult one with no snow in the city—resulting in water problems throughout the year. We hoped that this white blanket would cover us soon – promising plenty of water for the year and a break in the harsh spell of cold.

I kept walking, stamping my feet as I walked, to keep them warm. All round the city was deserted – muddy and cold. I walked past an old man smiling cheerfully – his face red with cold and his pheran[1] hiding the kanger[2]… I wish I had brought mine with me.

* * * * * * * * * * *

“These people should have home delivery of “chot[3]”!” I mumbled … as I walked on to the Kandur[4] shop. The aroma and the warmth of the shop reminded me that I was hungry and freezing.

It was warm inside the shop… I saw the kandur shaping the dough into “chot”, putting it in the tandoor[5] and taking it out – almost simultaneously. I marveled at his ability and envied his feet right next to the tandoor.

“Manzoora…. Pack 10 for me..”

Manzoora smiled back, and kept busy with his work, passing on bags of “chot” to those who had come before me. As my order was ready, I walked out with the hot “chot” in my bag. I looked up at the sky almost involuntarily – when will it snow?

* * * * * * * * * * *

I walked past the “band[6]” watching the marvel of nature around me. The trees were naked, the soil which used to be lush and green was brown and barren, there were no birds singing and chirping….even they seemed to be upset and gloomy today … everything looked brown and dead…

And I thought.. soon after the spell of winter has broken.. it will be all green and beautiful… thoughts of future made me smile..

Just then .. I was almost about to slip and it brought me back from my musings of future to the stark naked ugly reality.

Thinking of what I would do today after going home.. I walked on… when I saw a crowd of people…

Somebody’s corpse was just thrown by the army vehicle …. People were looking around trying to ascertain who he was… some sighing, some with tears in their eyes….

He had been shot.. shot many times… “and then in the news they will say, he died in an encounter”, I thought, disgusted and sickened.

The dead body lay there… abandoned and pitiful. There was blood all over the pheran.. his face seemed smashed.. I couldn’t keep my eyes on it… It was too gruesome… a shiver ran through my spine…

It was a normal occurrence.. something that I shouldn’t react too emotionally at…. I couldn’t afford to get worried by this.. there were many things that I had to do today… and I have seen the whole drama repeat so many times… I shook my head in disgust, wondering who would be next…

And just when I took the last glance at the scene… making my mind to move on… move on with my life… the first flakes of snow fell…. I was hypnotized… I couldn’t move… I watched…. Watched how the snow was covering all of us… our pain and our misery in a white shroud.

* * * * * * * * * * *

[1] Long overall worn in winter

[2] Kanger: a pot full of coal used in winter to keep warm

[3] Kashmiri bread

[4] Baker (specifically makes traditional bread)

[5] oven

[6] river bank

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