I have always sweared by these words said by the wise man, and so have my parents. I traveled on land and sea, through the air and by the road and reached many a place which gave me memories to be happy about, memories I will write about today. Life never gives you a second chance to experience something it offers you at your doorstep, and I am glad my father decided to take us for a trip to Gulmarg at my elder aunt’s place one chilly winter, despite all the natural odds we had to face. Living on a lone hill, my aunt had a cozy little wooden cottage, like the many others around where she lived alone with her brown husky Timbo. I was around eight when I visited my aunt and her cottage for the very first time. And the memories of that one week more than twelve years back are as vivid as ever.
I remember the rich brewing cups of hot coco that aunt would give us every morning as we sat by the hearth, soaking in all the warmth we could in the bone chilling cold. We had visited her in the month of December a week before Christmas. Gulmarg was submerged under a couple of feet of snow and the serene whiteness of the place could be easily mistaken for the heavenly clouds and mist. The trees had shed their yellow leaves and looked like crippled old men waiting for the warm sun to shine. That was the first snow of my life, and I could not be any more exhilarated by what I saw. The lakes had frozen into glassy ice and my aunt would have to go down to the pond by her cottage every single day with large drums in order to fill them with water that lay beneath the hard rocky covers of ice on top. I would be extremely tempted to go skiing on the frozen lake every day but managed to convince my father to take me out for a walk on the lake one day. The enchanted blue floor beneath my booted feet, and the gloomy gray sky around us gave me the goose bumps. I swear I could see something silver glint right under the surface and as I followed its trail from above, my father lifted me up and took me back to the cottage.
The air around would loom with the sounds of the evening azan and some shlokas and the few birds that would brave the chill and leave their nests to sit on the naked branches of the withering trees. The birds would also fly away as soon as the sound cracked through the peaceful silence of the air.
Freshly cooked Lamb shawarma, Potato mashed curry, Chicken rolls and Mulberry custards would fill our pallets almost every day during our meals, along with many other Kashmiri delicacies which I cannot recall completely. I could never get enough of my aunt’s cooked savories and had to leave with a heavy heart.
Having read this page of the world at such an early age, I am glad I was lucky enough to make a start very few are able to.
Contributed by: Arshia Dhar