Updated: Feb 1
When it snows in April
It was the month of April. Last day of the dry, desolate, scorched and parched month. I probably fell into a lull, reading a story of ancient China. I loved folklores. My grandmother had drilled into me, the stories of different nations, the cults and the rituals they followed, the magic they had, and the fantasy that ruled their lives. From an early age, my highly inquisitive mind always travelled far and wide in search of fantasmagorical adventures. Never did I realize in my wildest dreams that something strange would happen that day.
There is a proverb, “ when you believe in the unbelieving, the unbelieving to believe in what you believe” and that’s what happened that afternoon. My parents had gone to visit my maternal aunt in the morning and they won't be coming back for the night. Repeatedly my mother had told me to take down the dried clothes from the terrace which as usual had refracted back from my memory. Suddenly I felt a gust of cold wind, amid the hot sweltering loo blowing outside.
“what was that? Is it going to rain?”, I thought.
Before I continue my tale, let me give my readers a description of the ambiance I resided in during those days. My father, being a retired army officer, preferred to relocate to some secluded area of the town. A big substantial mansion was on sale at a very low price. No one was willing to buy that house due to its bizarre location, far away from civilization, from the supermarket, and the city. The nearest house was a mile away. It was perfect for us. We loved it. We planted a lot of trees and re modelled the whole house in the look of a medieval residence of a lord. My mother planted different flowering plants that blossomed in different seasons and perfumed the whole house. As a writer, this house became my haven. My room overlooked the beautiful garden with variegated fruits and tall trees that shaded us from the blistering heat outside.
Another sudden gust of cold wind!
The wind brushed against my sweating skin and made me a dozen of goose bumps. Where was the wind coming from? I wondered. Suddenly I remembered. The clothes on the terrace!
I ran two stairs at a time and reached my big volleyball spaced terrace where a bunch of dried clothes were billowing in the wind. And it was cold. A creeping chilly sensation gripped me.
“why it is cold?”, I wondered.
Remember Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban? How the Dementors chilled the environment from where they floated by? The same thing was happening. It seemed that all of sudden the temperature has dropped from fifty to zero. Clouds lapped and hid the sun from view and a storm started to brew up in heaven. Our terrace is one of the beautiful aspects that I cherished about my house. The roof was railed and walled with beautiful pillars and flower pots, where bloomed a variety of orchids, bluebells, hibiscus, sunflower marigold, and some other whose name I knew not. A beautiful view of the storm covered sky was spread that afternoon. Grey clouds, black clouds, and a few flecks of white were all clustered together and tuning up a piece of thunderous music at intervals as if to ask the god above whether to shed down as rain or snow. The wind was rising upon a horse and was galloping at a fast pace with dried leaves running behind to compete.
The temperature continued to fall. I was utterly shocked at this behaviour of the climate. Never had in the last 50 years or so, the temperature dropped to zero degrees in my place, not even in the months of winter. “what is happening? Was it the ozone? Or the global warming?’’ I panicked. I was alone in this utterly big mansion and all of a sudden the temperature lost its sense.
And then it started.
First a tiny fleck. Then another. Then another. White tiny cotton balls straight from the sky. One dropped slowly on my nose and melted immediately.
It started to snow. And I stood transfixed in amazement. They fell slowly and silently as if they didn’t want to let the world know of their sudden arrival in a tiny tropical town in the middle of a hot summer afternoon. I never had seen snowfall before with my open eyes. I was bewildered. My teeth started to rattle and I felt cold all over. I rushed downstairs to call my mom and ask if she could see the snow from the town.
“ Oh no! My phone has no signal”. Maybe I should wait until they returned to exchange news of the sudden snow and how people reacted to it.
“This place is exquisite”, came a voice from behind.
My blood ran cold and my heart palpitated faster. I spun around and found myself looking at the blue eyes of a young girl. “who is she?’’ I thought. A thief? Or some new student for admission to my coaching institute? But she neither looked like a student nor appeared like a thief. My eyes moved down to the length of her torso, I found that she was wearing a black skirt and chequered shirt till her knees and black breaches. Her shoes were high heeled. I had never seen someone wearing breaches at my place. And who enters someone's house wearing shoes? We Asians are very much cranky with our house hygiene. But how did she enter my house? It was locked from within. I became nervous. My heart started to hammer. Her eyes were small and her high cheekbones didn’t make her an Indian. Her long black silky hair was tied with a ribbon from behind made her look somewhat surreal. I gathered my wits and blurted out:
“ who are you? How did you enter my home? Are you a thief? Better speak up fast. or I will call the police!”.
The girl started to laugh. Her voice was nothing like I had ever heard before. The jingling of Christmas bells seemed faint before her rich deep lustrous voice.
“ O my god! Do I look like a thief?”
-“ Then who are you?”
-‘ Well, well Well”, she smiled again and came forward. “ I am someone who can fulfil what you desire. I am someone whom you used to call when you were a child. I looked down upon you from my dwelling for so many years. Your tenacity and your deep dedication for that one true love brought me here. I am here to help you”.
I was awestruck. Everything went above my head. Who was she? Why did she come? How? And what wish was she talking about? I have so many of them!
-“ I still don’t get it. How do you know what I desire? How can you fulfil it? Moreover, I do desire a lot of things, but which one are you talking about?”
She started laughing again. her laugh was so much ear soothing. I was mesmerized.
“ okay”, she raised her hand and tucked a hair behind her ear, and sat down on the edge of the settee. “ I am going to introduce myself so that you can stop wondering less about my identity and more of your problems. I am She-ya-san. You can call me She-ya. I m a, in your terms, a fae. I stay in the Blue Mountains, in the far east”.
Now was my turn to laugh. “ A fairy? “ I rolled out laughing and dropped all the dried clothes from my arms.
“ you don’t look like a fairy. Fairies are winged and wounded creatures”, I wildly gestured for a pair of invisible wings. Fairies in my town! How boisterous!
She smiled and went near the window. Then turning around, she spread her hands and looked at me. I saw a glimpse. A glimpse of a long white and red kimono-clad magnificent big feathery winged fairy with a stick of jade in her grip. It was just a glance and then it vanished. I gulped down my shock.
“What the- , speech seemed to struck in my throat.
My hands shook and my brain stopped processing anything. A fairy in broad daylight, right in my room under the stormy sky.
“Why do you think it's snowing?’’, she asked after some time.
I had no answer. I was trapped in a bizarre situation.
“ Whenever we travel, the atmosphere changes according to our preference. I live in the mountains in the snowy world. So, the atmosphere too moulds according to our wish. And I been a fire fairy, you would not have been able to survive this much of time”.
She laughed again at her joke. For me, this was a serious matter. I knew I wasn't sleeping or hallucinating, for I had already pinched and slapped myself in a hard way.
She came closer and touched my shoulder. A shock of cold wave passed down my spine and chilled me to its bottom. “ Do you believe me now?”
“ You desire to meet the Moon Prince, don’t you? From an early age, you only asked for one boon from the Gods. One wish and one prayer. Throughout your life, you have rejected the love of men, denied the warm hugs and the kisses, shunned the company of handsome people, just for one person, who resided far away in the city of stars. All these years I have looked down at you, I thought with passing years your desire too would fade away like the dry leaves of the trees in winter. But, you are one heck of an adamant girl. The more I watched, the more I became impressed. At last, I couldn’t stop myself from coming here.”
“ Is this true? Can this happen? Will my wish fulfil?”
I must have looked clownish with my mouth hanging wide open and my eyes seemed to have dropped their balls.
Slowly and slowly it started to make sense. The clouds of doubts dissipated and I started to visualize things more clearly. The snow was falling faster and the whole land looked like a flood of milk. It was snowing in April.
I remembered once, long ago when my grandmother was still alive. She said once, “ Never stop believing in the workings of the universe. It snows in April when the earth and the other realms come closer. It snows in April when God decides to fulfil the impossible wish of at least one child. It snows in April when the fairies fly high waving their rainbow-tinted wings swishing their wands and fulfilling the desires of all. Never stop believing”.
“ I get it. So what's your plan?”, I asked at last.
-“well there is no plan. We will go, we will meet him, that's all”.
-“ What?”, I cried out. “ you mean to say, we will go and we will meet him, just like that? what will he say? And why will he meet me?”, several questions tumbled out like a waterfall.
-“ ughhh! You are a headstrong girl. Nothing is impossible. It's my responsibility to make your dreams come true. You don’t need to worry. Now let's go”
She pulled out a pencil-like stick, probably her wand, and flicked in a circular motion.
I was wearing a pair of faded sorts and an old t-shirt when LO! Behold! It changed! My dress and get up completely changed.
I was wearing a red gown, with a sweetheart neckline and jaw-dropping tail hemp behind with a lot of lace and glitters around my waist. I looked at the mirror. Was that me?
My hair was all pulled up in spirals and braids. My spectacled free eyes were loaded with a truck full of liners and mascara. And my lips looked different with the ruby red lipsticks.
“ you should wear makeup sometimes. You’d look good”, she smiled.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. All my fantasies were coming true. Cinderella. Snow white. You name it and I was her!
“you are not Cinderella. “, she seemed to read my mind. “There is no party today in his palace. Just a normal day.”
-“then why am I wearing all these?”
-“Just to look different. To attract attention.’ She winked. “ come on we are getting late.”
-“Why long will I stay there?”
-“Just an hour. You are not Cinderella, there is no midnight drama. And I don't care if you lose your shoe, because you are wearing simple high heels.”
Just one hour? I started to grumble.
“you can't leave anything behind except your good impression. This is not the 14th century. If he does feel something for you, he would find you himself. He has powers”
So everything was sorted. She ordered me to hold her hand and I closed my eyes. Instantly, I felt a gut sensation that lasted for a few seconds, and then I fell on the soft grass. I opened my eyes and found not on my sweet-smelling room, but a well-manicured lawn. And before me stood a palace. A modern palace, not with arches and turrets but with gardens, fountains, and flat roofs. This was where the Moon Prince lived. I looked around and saw She-ya standing a yard away from me.
“ You have exactly one hour. Find him. Try to talk to him. When the hour is over, meet me at this spot. I will be waiting’.
Saying this she vanished in thin air. You can’t imagine how I felt during that time. All these years I dreamt of meeting him. He is the only one whom I loved, worshipped and I desired. I first saw him on a television channel. I was a young girl then full of high flying thoughts. I didn’t realize that that angelic face would be the bane of my life. I couldn’t look at any other man, I couldn’t fall in love with anyone else. All my friends jeered at me, some even called me asexual. But can you fall in love with clay, after you have seen the gold? Once you see an angel, no other man would be enough for you. That was my life. Until it snowed.
“ what if the prince denies to meet me? what if I am unable to enter into his heart? What about the language?”, I went on pondering upon a series of “what ifs” when suddenly I collided with someone and fell. A man wearing black shoes, a black suit, took hold of my shoulders and pulled me up. Then my eyes went up to his face and my whole world stopped.
My breath died halfway inside me and I forgot where I was. A beautiful pair of brown eyes looked down upon me with concern. His chiselled face looked divine under the lowly lit lamps on the walls. His lips smiled lopsidedly and all the world tilted along with it. He was the one. My Moon Prince, himself was standing before me.
“Are you alright?”, he asked. Oh my god! His voice was deep and melodious, like the breath of nature, like the winds grumbling before a storm.
I couldn’t speak a word. My mouth opened and closed like a fish and I probably looked like a clown.
“ Say something dear. Are you alright? I was on phone and I was in a hurry. I am sorry. Do forgive me please”.
-“It's okay. I-I”, I stammered and stammered. Get a grip. Get a grip. My mind hollered in my ear.
I pulled myself together and smiled sweetly.
“you don’t look from these parts. Who are you?”, he asked.
How could I tell that I had been teleported by a kimono-clad fairy moments ago?
-“ I won't tell, where I am or who I am. That part of the answer you have to guess it yourself”.
He smiled. One of his divine angelic smiles and my heart fluttered like butterflies.
“I would love to talk to you. I am very much inquisitive. Such a rare treat to meet an Asian beauty you are! But I have a video conferencing which begins just now. Can you wait for me in the library? It will be over in just a few minutes. Can you please?”
Who can deny those beautiful pleading eyes?
I nodded. He took hold of my hand and led me towards the stairs. My hand melted at his touch. His eyes and his warm fingers are the only things I will remember forever till the last breathe of my life. He had a rather large library with neatly decorated shelves covered with leather-bound originals, paperbacks, and a set of ottomans to lie back and read. He left me with a smile, pleading to wait for him.
I looked at my watch. Only eight minutes left. How fast time flies! I always wanted to see him. I used to idolize him. My love for him, my desire to be with him, and the urges of my soul, made me obsessed. Meeting him, that obsession melted away like the melting of snow after the sun rises. I knew if I stayed with him, I would have been the happiest. I would have been the luckiest one. But I knew, the reality. Time was up! And it was time to go! Back to my cluttered home and back to my tears soaked pillows! I could feel my heart breaking. For the first time, I realized the pain of heartbreak. I wished I had more time. I wished I could have said, “ I love you”. I wished the snow had never melted.
- saheli banerji