The war in the air

orange-candy.jpgThe air is dry. So is my skin, my hair and even my eyes. I slather moisturizer, I use deep-penetrating, salon-special conditioners, I use all the eye drops I can get. They work, but only briefly.

The humidifier runs constantly, whining at the task of constantly feeding the air.  But the air drinks up all the water and demands more and more.

The air is a thirsty beast. It licks up all the moisture it finds, and yet, it is not satiated.  No water remains with the air. Even water fears this beast.

Water drops freeze in fear. They turn white in shock. They fall to the ground, shaking soundlessly. They disguise themselves with a new identity – they call themselves snow flakes.

Sometimes, fear turns to anger and the water drops become ice – sharp slivers full of rage, waiting to fell the unwary person, hanging down from plants and trees, trying to stab the earth.

Water flees the air, but air pursues water, perhaps finding water more attractive, the farther it goes.

I am caught in the middle of this deadly battle, as the tentacles of the air dive deep into my skin in search of the elusive water drops.  Others suffer too.  I once found an orange slice, lying by itself on a side table.  Someone, perhaps me, had peeled an orange and eaten every slice but this one.  In another place, or in another season, this orange slice would have turned brown and been feasted on by bacteria. But this was winter.  So I found the orange slice, perfectly preserved, like the candied orange jellies I used to love as a child.

Fascinated, I picked it up, and watched in horror as the orange slice crumbled instantly in my hands to a million tiny pieces. I felt the same remorse that an archaeologist might, to see a two thousand year old pottery shard break in his hands. I had taken perfection and destroyed it.

The air helps me sometimes, unwittingly. It helps me makes croutons.  I cut bread slices into cubes and leave them out at night. The air drinks its fill, and by morning, the bread cubes are dry and crisp, and make perfect, no-fat croutons.

Yet, though I try my sly ways to make use of the dry air for my benefit, I know I am not winning the battle. It’s the air who has the upper hand, always.

The deadly battle rages on silently, every minute of the day. Outside, an icy sword of Damocles hangs from my roof. It will lie in wait, patiently, until spring. Until the sun picks up courage to turn its scorching gaze on the sword. Then the ice will melt in tears of regret, of missed opportunities, and perhaps of remorse. But beneath the crocodile tears lies a steely heart, I know. The battle is lost this year, but the war goes on. The ice will come again next year.

I reach for the moisturizer and slather it over my battered skin. All I can do is wait for spring. Some battles can only be won by time.


7 thoughts on “The war in the air

  1. What a wonderful piece, Lekhni. I wish I could send you some moist air from Kolkata, we have far more than we can handle:)

  2. Dipali: Kolkatta’s moist air is welcome 🙂 Could you also send me some rosgolla to go with it? 🙂

    km: Oh yes, I can’t wait for spring! Winter is beautiful in its own way, but I’d like to meet it after a year 🙂

    gooddaysunshine: Thanks 🙂 That’s orange candy, but that’s exactly how dry orange slices look 🙂

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