I love winters. I, myself am a winter baby arriving in this world on a cold January morning in Assam. The fascination is however not just season deep. It’s all the experiences of a winter through my childhood and adolescence years together that has made me fall in love with this season.
I remember every winter the outer barn of our home was stacked with dry woods. Being lucky enough to grow up in a Tea Estate we never had a dearth of ‘a close proximity with the pleasures’ that being close to nature brings in. I distinctly remember the lovely smell of dry woods that cut through the winter chill as they crackled under the soft winter sun. Bonfires were the best things that I loved about winters. To my young mind, this was what made the winter vacation worth looking forward to.
Tea Estates are quiet places but with an excess of charm.
Often, on cold winter nights when conversations were made visible in vapours, we sat around a crackling bonfire as a family. The silence of the night was broken only with voices of people I loved the most – dad and mom. My older siblings recounting a story or two of their school life and friends made the evening a great story telling session by the fire.
I was not much of a talker. I always sat by quietly. Listening; holding a long stick in my hand, hitting at the burnt pieces that glowed half ash and half red. Hitting on the red part of the wood with the stick let out a fly of bonfire sparks. Firingoti as we call it in our language. These bonfire sparks enthralled me no end and I often spent my time around the fire lighting up these sparks.
I loved to see the three parts of a flame. I was amazed by how each flame glowed a blue at the centre then a yellow and finally a glaring orange. Sometimes as a piece of fire died out it glowed with a beautiful greenish blue.
Those winter nights were full of fascination. It was full of happy feelings. As I look back I see a beautiful family of five, gathered around a fire, laughing, talking while our two pet dogs kept us company patiently. Everything glowed with an orange hue. The skin felt amazingly warm against the warmth of a crackling fire on those cold nights. Some nights resonated with the sound of a soulful Bollywood song sung by a passing tea estate labourer making his way home after his shift has ended. The smell of smoke and dry wood crackling on a cold night made the whole experience amazingly alluring.
Way back then, I never imagined that life can be any different. Today, as I sat watching a band of girls on television sit around a bon fire with the sparks flying I was transported to my childhood memories.
As I switched off the television with vivid memories of childhood playing fresh in my head, I realized that I am privileged that I have had a childhood that I can look back at and sigh with sweet nostalgia. Being in the grind of the modern day world, I had almost forgotten what it was like to actually live and bask in the simple pleasures that life offers. While mall hopping, gadget browsing, playing corporate I realized I had forgotten what it was like to watch the glorious bonfire sparks.Today as the old memories of a quality life gushed back into my memory I realized that it is not the artificial but the raw and simple things in life that make it magical.