An Encounter With Snow-Bring some back to Kenya
As white as snow. I remember using the expression countless number of times. Though used appropriately, I had little or no idea of what snow was. My geography teacher once mentioned that there was snow on top of mount Kenya. Frozen ice, he elaborated. Anything more or less had never crossed my imagination. I knew of winter too. One of the four seasons, and that it was cold.
It was one cold winter morning. I was hardly a month old in the world of four seasons. My faculty was a stone’s throw distance from the hostel. “If this was home, even the lecturer would not suffer himself in the cold to attend lectures. ” I thought to myself, it was too cold. I felt lazy too, but had no option but leave for class. My friend and I left together, wondering why they would not have winter for holidays.
Ooh! The whole street was white. Interesting it was.
“Why would anyone pour flour on the streets for goodness sake? Na kuna watu hawana chakula (when others lack). huh!” I exclaimed.
“I think it is salt.” My friend answered. Though still it didn’t make sense why the salt on the street. As we walked down the street I was taken into deep thought.
“Salt is an impurity, I remember learning that in physics.” Was thinking hard to explain why salt would be sprinkled everywhere. I found it.
“You see, it is too cold here. I just can’t explain it, but I think this salt will help lower the temperature in some way.” I said it so confidently like I knew what I was talking about . It made sense. I even nodded my head in agreement with my assumption. I saw the painted trees too and concluded that the salt was going to be spread to that level, for better temperature regulation. What a scientist I was!
Our conversation had to end. We got to class. Our lecturer couldn’t speak English but knew English words. She mentioned something. That snow was falling. I wondered where, there was no mountain around. She pointed outside the window. So, the white flour, I mean salt, was snow… Wow! As the day matured, I could see the flakes actually falling. Some fall on me on my way back home. They disappeared though.
“Snow is beautiful.” I thought.
I didn’t laugh at myself then. I learned. I consulted Google. I didn’t understand how the snowflakes fell from the sky, not to mention how they were formed. I just forgot to ask Google another question, I actually didn’t know about the question either. “How to walk on snow.”
After falling continuously for one week, the snow started freezing and everywhere was slippery. I walked yes, though it looked like I was dancing to some slow music. Snow stopped falling, I started falling. I thank God I never broke my leg, but had to nurse it. I didn’t know how to walk on snow. I slipped, more than I ever did in the village mud, or the wet slippery floor. Because my hands would always be pocketed due to the cold, and walked carelessly, I’d fall helplessly. I almost thought that snow didn’t like me at all (if it does) until I saw the Ukrainians fall too, once in a while. I was not alone. My friends floated in the same boat. It is a wonderful experience.
Snow is indeed white. I now know. And a teacher too.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to keep my promise to my friend. But I sent him photos of me playing in the snow.
By Liz Ekakoro:Diaspora Messenger contributor/Kenyan in Ukrain