There is this thing they say about December. I don’t know what they say. I never really got it. I was always a little too sceptical to understand the magic around me. Or was I?
1. Anthropomorphism and trains
My first train journey was on an unusually cold December morning. I was a four-year-old who would get a little too excited by everything; so when the train roared on and my stomach rumbled along, I looked outside the window, my eyes widened to the size of a tomato, watching clouds become airplanes and baby otters and dragonflies and the almond-shaped eyes of the boy who lived next door.
Many Decembers to follow resonated with the chug-chug-thunk of the train engine.
2. Bonfires and stories
Every winter break meant a battalion of cousins assembling at grandma’s villa. I sulked through the day by her side because nobody wants to include a skinny kid who cannot run fast in their team. Nighttimes were the best, with my face flushed crimson like the bonfires we sat around– me telling the stories I had learned through the summer so grandma and I could reverse roles.
3. Fairy castles and Christmas
The boy I once loved told me that the Christmas week makes him a little sad for some strange reasons. So I sneaked in a red stocking underneath his pillow every day of December just so he could believe a little more in the magic of this month. When he left, December days felt like that weary, forlorn house people pass by but never make a home in: the old castle in fairy tales that the prince and the princess abandon but secretly visit on their low days during the Christmas week.
4. Rafi Sahab and hip-hop
They say every month has its own sound. I know what December sounds like. It sounds like Mohammed Rafi on the radio, crooning about the letters he sent to his ladylove and ma humming along, adding swift brushstrokes on her canvas– and singing of love letters.
Now, my four-year-old daughter corrects her grandma as she gets her lyrics wrong. Ma laughs and says, “I don’t get your hip-hop and fast beat.” Their constant chatter fills the air like confetti.
December still sounds the same to me.
December is the warm, warm shawl of melting sunrays falling on the chopped, marinated vegetables left for drying on the rooftop.
December is a school bus filled with children wrapped in scarf and sweaters– their mittened palms dug deep into their blazer pockets, shuffling their bodies against their friends’ for the sake of a little more warmth, a little more mirth, a little more mischief.
December is my man hitting the snooze button one more time, snuggling a little too close to my chest and wrapping his strong arms around me, pulling me close.
December is postponed showers, an extra cup of masala chai and puchka dates.
There’s this thing they say about December. I think it’s true.
"This piece is from a very different part of my life when I still thought I was straight; when my writing style was still developing and making lists seemed like the easiest way of communicating the disarray of my head. A lot has changed since I wrote this almost two years ago, but December still evokes an end-of-film sequence on the back of my eyelids.
And 2020 feels like a giant blooper reel.
As we go about tying the loose ends and letting go the ones we cannot reconcile to, let's take a moment to step back, fill our lungs with gratitude, and sway to the sound of the footsteps of this unsolicited visitor leaving.
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