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Memories of the freakishly chilly days of dismal and distant past always send me packing into the nostalgic throes. I’d get to the mind-boggling visions of the icy winters of my preteens. Winter was always a big nightmare and that too when it happened to be a Siberian Chilla Kalan. It meant poverty, miseries, affliction, diseases and death. As and when the vast expanses of landmasses, stretched as far as the eye could see, were accumulated with the heavy snow, it meant that the icy stuff, which would soon be smeared with mud and dirt, never melt if it froze up in the continuing subzero temperatures. The very sight of the frozen dull and dirty snow mass scattered here and there gave cold shivers. As if winter were going to be there with us forever the unending load-shedding cajoled denizens into living life of cavemen….using hearth, damchool, kerosene stove, lanterns, chatta-gheer, earthen lamps (tsoung), kangries, manann etc.

Eyes, under pitchy conditions, seemed to be of no use….. You couldn’t see, you couldn’t read and you couldn’t work in the pitch-dark caves. In the unlighted night, as dark as the wolf’s mouth, the howling wilderness would cast a deep gloom to give rise to hellishly nightmarish imaginations. Cuddled up together in the corners of the dark, ill-ventilated cells, kind of cubbyholes, the Pheran-clad grave-dwellers, with tens of awe-stricken and gloomy eyes gazed into the ghostly shadows that were cast on the walls and roofs. In the pitch-darkness, desolate........

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