As the hands of the sun gently lifted the curtain of night, the aroma of warm, dry flour simmering in melted butter and caramelized onions woke me with a pleasantness I had not experienced since childhood. I rushed through the morning routine, eager to meet my parents. As I entered the kitchen, I was greeted by their love and warmth. Perhaps it was the atmosphere, perhaps the events leading up to that morning, I felt like a child rushing home from the cold and dark woods, to be greeted by his parents. I felt safe. I felt loved.
As we conversed, I sat by the kitchen window, with the gleaming sun streaming in the room, inviting me to breathe in the fresh air. Air, that seemed to be warmed by the orange glow of the sun. I proceeded to open the door in anticipation of enjoying the heat. As the patio door struggled to slide across its rail, I froze. Frigid, cold air forced its way into my lungs, like hundreds of mini daggers clamping their way, holding on to my passage in desperation as they slid towards the lungs. My nostrils felt as if an ice cube had been forced into them, yet strangely, the sensation resembled that of a hot iron being pressed against the skin. As my body recovered from the initial shock, a feeling of gratitude took over my being. Smiling, I closed the door and proceeded to consume my favorite breakfast; buttered chapatti, omelette with onions and an extra strong cup of Tetley tea. It was February and my first day in Canada; I had been initiated!
I grew up on a desert Island, where even November heat resulted in mirage-like illusions. Sun was a constant companion and the yellow rays of heat pierced through you like thousands of needles desperately seeking refuge under your skin. Even the gentle breeze that lightly swayed the palm trees was hot enough to scorch your lungs. The cotton pyjamas that I wore that morning were designed to cool the skin, not to keep the razor sharp teeth of arctic wind at bay. After breakfast had warmed my innards, however, I proceeded to sit next to a glass window, a safe distance from the cold that defused through it. I enjoyed the warm rays of sunshine filling the room, as my siblings awoke and we rejoiced as a family, together again.
As the sun made its way on the designated track towards the noon hour, my curiosity about snow started to pique. “I have to get out and enjoy the snow,” I thought. Being the eldest has its privileges I guess, as plans were made and agreed upon instantaneously. In the simplest manner one can imagine, I ‘dressed’ for my first winter exposure – wore two pairs of socks, wrapped a blanket around me and borrowed a toque to keep my brain from freezing outside-in. My siblings and I stepped out and felt the fresh snow crunch underneath our feet. For several moments I stayed in awe, motionless as if painted in the picturesque painting of snow that magnificently covered the landscape, calm yet alive, under the brilliance of the winter sun.
We decided to engage in a custom we read about as children, many moons ago. Snowball fight! As the siblings teamed up and gathered the snow that was to become the defensive ammunition, my brother showed me the fail-safe method to make snowballs that took advantage of aerodynamics, guaranteed to knock out the opposing party! No doubt he perfected this skill at school, an art forbidden today by the society that has left common sense at bay. I’m glad our neighbors did not call the Psychiatric ward as I enjoyed the first snowball fight of my life, wrapped in a blanket, wearing a toque that looked like an inverted sock with a rainbow, emitting in the brilliance of colors. I do not recall who won, but the pleasantness lasts till today!
Entering the house after a joyous winter afternoon, my mom presented me with a new jacket, reminding me that mothers should always be consulted before going out in winter. As we hugged our parents and warmed ourselves in a home heated by love and central heating, we thanked God for the bounties He has bestowed upon us. The hot chocolate that awaited us was perhaps akin to what the Children of Israel felt upon reaching Mount Sinai after leaving their ancestral home of Egypt.
Tired, exhausted, happy, satisfied, I went to bed that night with a smile on my face and my spirit somewhere on the moon. Canada had embraced me, and I had embraced her. This land was going to be my home. By the Grace of God, a new journey had just begun.
As I lay in bed, joyfully reminiscing the events of the day, tears gravitated from my eyes. I recalled the struggles people have to go through to simply drink a glass of water. I prostrated to God with my soul, in thankfulness that He had reunited us all in Canada. The true north, strong and free!