White is a colour. Anybody who says otherwise has never had the joy of sloshing about in the snow. My very first, as yet abstract experience was rather grim. Having landed in Frankfurt in the early hours of Friday 3 December, I was treated to the laments of frustrated passengers from around the world who had been eagerly waiting to get their flight to Berlin for Christmas. Many had been waiting for a flight for over 24 hours. The delayed flight schedule was the result of new blankets of snow covering the city. Anxiety crept stealthily through the waiting lounge, reflected on the faces of travellers. I felt it too, as the ground staff announced further delays every ten minutes or so. Until finally, just over an hour had passed beyond what would have been our departure time, and the boarding gates opened.
Of course, it would be yet another 45 minutes before take-off, but then we were all set to our destination Berlin.
And a beautiful sight awaited us on arrival...
It didn't matter that we had just stepped into a city that allowed us a drop of some 30 degrees Celcius. A scorching Johannesburg had just bid us farewell at 22 degrees the evening before, and Berlin boasted an icy welcome at -8 degrees. Generous lather of bright white snow covered pathways, trees and buildings. A steady trickle of snow flakes continued to make its way to the ground. Delighted, I eagerly shoved my waterproof K-way gloves into the pockets of my down-padded jacket, slipped back my fur beanie and gathered handfuls of the soft ice.
There is a first time for everything, and this was my first encounter with snow.
A gush of wind whistled past my face, freezing a silly smile in place. Adrenalin was not to let this cold get the better of me. At this point, cold is just a word in the dictionary. Google it. Really. It is just a word! It means nothing compared to the precious experience that can transport a stuffy academic back to the days of childhood wonder and discovery.
And it renders beautiful a puzzled city of brilliant old architecture, remnants of pre-fab ugliness and gloomy grey skies. The snow adds colour. And Berlin comes alive! The streets are filled with grace, filled with smiling faces, filled with the festive glow of Christmas and the promise of newness.
Shafinaaz is a sociologist, artist and poet based in Johannesburg, SA. She is the author of several works of non-fiction and fiction, and has been listed in HayFestival's Africa39 category of top 39 authors in Africa under the age of 40 at the London Book Fair 2014. Also see www.shafinaaz.co.za
I write. As I must. Words are my paints of expression on an otherwise bland canvas, my rollercoasters of delight on otherwise dreary roads. Entertainment or derision, they manifest in my varied states of being. Until theres silence. Even then, theres a dialogue of sorts that continues... in spirit? Who knows..