Zeba was unusually quiet these days. It was towards the end of the year she felt that her life was plodding. Her life was passing just as the days of the year, rapidly, meaningless. Nothing made an impression on her anymore. She had turned as cold as the winter unnerving chill. Nothing moved her anymore, nothing appealed to her heart. To the outside world she had turned quieter, smiling less, speaking a few words. Worried about something, maybe, they thought. But inside her, she had gone completely silent. An adamantine silence had occupied every cell of her existence. She had become rigid, as if nothing inside her wanted to move, anymore. She stood by the bridge looking out at the large lake, the dark lake that lay as quiet as she had come to be.

The world around her was cheerful, how it always seemed to be. Moving, happy, tense, worried and busy. Noisy against her silent self. It was teasing Zeba, teasing her stubborn silence. Her soul had refused to give to her the comfort she was seeking from it, having denied its real happiness she was now being revenged. Her brain was giving her no notions; it was as senseless as her silence. She felt light headed, unstressed but scared of the growing silence. Her heart was her only solace. It comforted her in the silent words of assurance, of being there for her, of being still her part, trying to connect her head and soul, trying to reconnect her with her real life. Struggling hard, but failing.

Zeba closed her eyes pushing her tears outside her unperceiving eyes. They were neither of sadness nor of joy. They had no meaning, made no sense to what she was feeling, daunting her just as her silence was. She wanted to scream, run like the wind, leave everything behind, but there was not even a sigh she could let out. She had no sense of what and why. She had lost herself in the pace of life, sacrificed her soul for the whims of petty desires that neither mattered nor made any sense anymore. Her head abandoned her this time; everything seemed irrational, making no sense at all. Her world had come crumbling down on her, oblivious to the outside eyes.

People were busy speaking of the weather that had changed the severances of the harsh winter that lay ahead. Children were excited by the fresh snowfall. She had always loved winters, the snow clad mountain peaks, the icicles off the roof, the brilliance of white carpet that replaced the green , the radiantly reflecting sun rays, it always brought out the child in her. Making snow men, small igloos, the fierce snow ball fights, she relived some happy moments of the past, of her childhood, the time she loved and hated the most. Today, however, it was different; the beautiful snowflakes did not light up her smile. They did not bring joy to her soul. She loved walking in the snowfall but today her feet were fixed, unable to move. The heavy feeling set her heart to anything but cheerful. It was as if winter had set right into her heart and would never go.

She felt a soft tap on her left shoulder, a light hand, a firm touch. She turned around to see a beautiful woman double her age smiling radiantly to her face. Zeba was awestruck by her beauty. Deep ocean blue eyes set in a radiant face reflecting a little sparkle of her diamond nose stud. She took a shawl from her bag and wrapped Zeba in it.

Darling, you are cold. This will keep you warm. Everything shall be alright. No winter lasts forever.

Zeba was overwhelmed by her warm gesture, forgotten how sweet kindness was. She nodded her head in reply to this kind gesture. She forced a smile, the words still failing to come out.

Everything is beautiful for the eyes that see. Winter is as charming as summer, just not in the same way.

In the winter of life, just remember to wrap yourself with the warmth of faith. Faith that the skies shall clear again, the fog shall fade and the sun will shine. Seek true purpose of your life, transform the signs into actions and pay heed to your heart. Never neglect your soul, never shut it out. Balance the world with your inner self.

Zeba was listening intently trying to seek reason for her silence. Contemplating every word the beautiful stranger by her side was letting out. It brought an inexplicable peace to her. Her words were like the water drawn over an abandoned flower pot, seeking its way through the deep cracks softening every particle in its way; each word running through her veins reaching her heart, soft whispers hitting the dark silent wall.

Don’t let it drown you. Listen to your heart; give what your soul seeks, for it comes from the time beyond this world. Steady your heart, nourish your soul, and bring it back from the dark slumberous sleep.

How? Zeba asked in her silence. How do I do that?

The stranger turned her head towards Zeba, smiling warmly.

Your soul already knows its way to peace, just listen to it. Each of your heartbeat rhythms to its beat, pushing you towards the way destined for you. It knows the path, seek and it shall reveal itself to you. Zeba, look deep within you, you already know the answers to all your questions. Listen to them. Seek a little space for yourself away from this vociferous world. If you let it own you, you will find no peace, no success. Instead stay strong in its face, show it your strength, your faith. There will always be those who push you down, situations that tear you apart, worries that steal away your sleep. But if you stay true to your soul, to your heart you shall see that behind this dense fog, there is the sun waiting to shine. Walk on this path. Don’t hesitate. The sheer happiness that it will bring will fill every bone in you with the real sense of triumph. Don’t lose yourself; don’t let the silence take you to a place where everything will be gone forever.

Nothing in life is without reason. It is here to teach you and will not go unless it has taught you what you need to learn. Take this silence as an awakening call from the deep sleep that your soul has undertaken. Wake it up, with good deeds, with kind words, with true sense of being and not just existing. Wake it up, Zeba, don’t let it die; don’t abandon your true self.

Zeba turned her head away from the strange woman who no longer seemed strange. Ahead of her the fog that had taken over the lake was slowing lifting, giving way to the faded reflections of the sun struggling to come out of the dense clouds off the still water. She looked up at the sky and saw the shimmering line bordering the clouds, and kept staring at it till the sun came out and shone bright, filling the gray winter sky with a bright light. It was a wonderful morning; she smiled back at the grinning sun. It had been cold, foggy, snowy and sunny in the early hours.  A beautiful morning indeed! She had seen this sight many times in her life, but today it somewhat made sense to her. Zeba turned back to the stranger, returned her shawl. She hugged her and kissed her hand. Thanking her without any words, she waved her goodbye. She went off, her steps firm, resolved to start afresh. Her heart determined, strong she left the bridge wearing her prettiest smile.

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