PS Look to the right.
It's winter in your sleepy city.
It's not that cold and Park Street isn't lit up with Christmas lights yet and you still use the fan at night but it's definitely winter.
The air doesn't chill or freeze but it cuts through your skin, with paper crispness and the winter smog sits heavily on the pink and gold dawn of the morning. Misty white clouds do not emerge when you breathe but breathing has becoming a little easier. The air is slightly fresher, slightly more pure even though it still isn't advisable to open your mouth too wide near traffic lights.
The flies have stopped buzzing near the Dhaba. Or maybe you don't notice them that much. Hot smells of fresh rolls waft through and mingle with the crispness and you hunger to taste the heat.
In the morning, the plants on your terrace look greener. The flowers look redder and bluer. They want to welcome winter too, you see. The sun isn't harsh any more- it doesn't sting, it bathes. It bathes you in a warm, soft glow and you want to curl up underneath with the sunshine on your face and inhale the freshness that can never be found in summer.
At night, the roads are a little emptier. The beggars are already bringing out their thick blankets, rolling themselves into little woollen balls under the moon. And wherever you go, you hear the drowsy hum of Christmas because Bengalis are, at heart, Englishmen.
The Christmas tree has grown tall, taller than last year and you begin to wonder how to bring it down. It isn't time to bring the decorations down yet but soon it will be and you will hang red and golden glass balls on the tree and break a few and when you finally crown it with the silver star, your heart will sing, even if you don't believe in Christ.
Kookie Jar will soon be adorned with wreathes and your mother will bring the first mince pies home. And you will hang up your school blazer without any regret because even though it was nice having that shiny silver pocket, it is nicer to know you can open your eyes to the gentle sun drifting in through your window and snuggle in deeper and warmer and go back to sleep.
A shower becomes a pleasure with hot steamy water pouring down on you and the minute you're out, you rush to put on your thick flannel robe to protect you from the- not really biting- nibbling cold.
And you bring your red carol book out and at night you play your favourite ones while your mother sings softly.
And the stars seem starrier and the moon smiles beatifically down on you because it is pleased.
And your sleepy old city- dirty and smelly and crowded- becomes just a little more beautiful and when you walk down the roads, at one with the freshness and crispness and the hum in the air, a scarf tugging at your neck, you feel a contented feeling inside you and it is that feeling, more than anything else, that whispers winter is here.
I remember the broad wooden steps. The broadest, woodenest steps I'd ever seen. Faint musty smell. High ceiling. As high as the sky. Forever and ever. I remember clutching mama's hand and climbing, climbing, climbing to where the spinning wheel was.
I remember blue desks. Blue chairs. Not green, not pink, not purple. Blue. I remember laughing at a girl who coloured outside the line. I always stayed within. I didn't think differently but I got a 'Very Good' in art and I was happy.
I remember carpets being spread out on the cold cement floor. Carpets vast and wide that stretched on forever and ever. We crawled and crawled, trying to get to the other end before we died of thirst and collapsed under the sun's harsh light. We slept on the carpet, eyes closed tightly against the demanding sun. The good girls always slept. The bad girls stood on the Blue Box.
I remember singing. The piano was on the other side of the wall and it took me a year to find it. Before that, I thought it was magic. The same magic that made sound in movies. Postman Pat. Ratatat. Magic. But then I found the piano. And the Music Faery sniffed a little sniff and flew away to look for the innocent.
I remember the long empty room where the sandboxes stood. I remember elbowing and shoving to get to the sand, not to make a castle or dig a hole but to let it run through my fingers, feeling the coarseness and warmth of each little grain.
I remember climbing the jungle gym. I thought I was climbing to the sky. Up up to where the clouds were. Higher and higher until a brat by the name of Tania Mirchandani brought me tumbling down.
I remember the fresh flowers on the teacher's table. I remember calling them Aunty, not Ma'am. Ma'am was still two years away and it was Aunty who sang with us and coloured with us and told us storied and made us stand on the Blue Box.
I remember leaving the little magical glade and going up stage to tell Ma'am Gangjee that my name was Trisha Dutt and I was in KG now.
The nurseries that they have now aren't magical. They are small and plastic and green and red and yellow. And the children don't know who the Music Faery is.