It is only the beginning of autumn so perhaps it is a bit odd to present a poem on winter. But on Sunday night as I took out the garbage, with an impeding frost warning, there was pinch in the air. It felt very much like like a winter night in Sialkot, Pakistan where I was born, where we might get several mild frosts of a winter but never any snow. On such mornings the mountains from across the border in Indian Kashmir, which for almost half a year would appear as dim white smudges hovering above the horizon, would appear sharp and white, clearly delineated, as if they had been boldly drawn in overnight with white and grey pastels.
The poem below, though it captures some of the sense of our holiday celebrations in Sialkot such as going to Christmas dramas and eating special treats, is principally about dear experiences with my cousins in Rawalpindi. Many dear times were had with cousins in Lahore and Sialkot, too! And, yes, this poem does rhyme and have an archaic cadence 🙂
-for my cousins in Rawalpindi
There’s Christmas plays on crisp, cold nights
In halls aglow with candle light.
Or paying well-loved friends a call.
Perhaps a trip to Sadar* mall.
Then home we go through darkened streets.
For, after all, home is most sweet.
And then comes the expected plea,
“Dear sister, will you make some tea?”
We’ll get the cake and Christmas treats
And light the fire to warm our feet,
And pull our chairs and gather in
And then the real fun begins.
We’ll sit and talk and laugh and joke
And some of us will blow our smoke.
And when we’re running short of drink,
“Dear brother, it’s your turn I think.”
And then we’ll talk and joke some more
Till weary eyes get red and sore.
Then cross the chilly courtyard stones
To thick razais** to warm our bones.
And in the darkness left behind,
The peanut hulls and orange rinds
Fill dirty cups and bring to mind,
“Praise God above for joyful times.”
*downtown shopping mall
**thick Pakistani quilts