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Winter’s Whisper

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Exactly two months before I was getting ready to leave for Germany to start my masters, my elder brother told me, “Everything changes once you leave home. It is like breaking out of the cocoon hoping to enjoy the colourful world. But only when you fly will you understand that home was a lot better. Mark my words brother. Beauty isn’t about the colour or elements around you but the self-discipline and inner peace within you.”

Cover Photo by R. S. Chintalapati

As I listened very keenly, he continued, “I might not have travelled around the world but I have been in a hostel for many years now. Always remember no matter how bad things get around you, never give up and always try learning the best from everything.” In the process of getting ready, I bought jeans for the first time in my life. Twenty-one years in India and I never needed the thick bottoms that would take away so much of my pleasure. Hugging my parents as they embraced me back, I left with my sister who was pursuing her PhD in Germany.

Everything was new, right from the cold climate to the new language. Never in my life did I wear so many clothes to just stop shivering in the cold winds. In India, we presume summers are the worst; maybe because most of us haven’t felt anything close to winters in Germany. The first two days I did nothing but stay indoors enjoying the warmth from the heaters but on the third day, something curious happened. On our evening walk to Leipzig’s city centre, I could observe the divided roads beside the footpath like our highways. There was a path for the bicycles, beside the bicycles path was the path for the cars and beside the cars was the path for the trams. The wide roads helped every vehicle share its own space.

Cover Photo by R. S. Chintalapati

Though the city didn’t have a lot of magnificent stone buildings, the few which existed were phenomenal. Walking in the cold winds wearing a thick black coat, I travelled along with my sister and brother-in-law. Before long, we reached one of the best buildings in the city which was the Deutsche Bank. I couldn’t help but feel that it resembled Gringotts. I’ve even mentioned to my sister, “Perhaps Rowling took inspiration.”

As we continued walking, I felt a little more sun wouldn’t hurt. Maybe because the grey clouds weren’t helpful at all and I couldn’t imagine being alone in Freiburg in such a depressing climate. Though my sister tried to tell me about the black forest in Freiburg and the city’s ideal location in reaching both France and Switzerland, I’ve got my reservations.

So a few steps later, we reached “Peek and Cloppenburg” the store where we planned to buy a winter collection of shoes and jackets before it got even colder in December which was just three months away. However before we walked in, I heard a woman singing as she sat before the store. Her voice was as sweet as honey and she played the piano as well.

Honestly, what she sang made no sense to me but somehow I could admire the beauty of it. I loved listening to her so much that I stood in the small crowd before her for a long time and noticed that people were dropping coppers in the hat before her.

I waited for a while to see if she would end so that I could place some money but neither did she stop nor did she take a moment to peek at the coppers she had earned. All she did was enjoy the cold wind and sing songs that meant many different things to her audience. I felt she was lost in her own paradise and I was pleased as to how much she enjoyed her work. She was in a blissful state.

For me, it felt as if her voice and the piano were whispering the truth of life. That night I could still listen to her before I fell asleep.

Until we started our journey to Freiburg, I did visit the city centre as many times as I could just to listen to her. It felt like winter whispering the mysterious beauty of a noble soul.



This contribution is edited by Sreekar Ayyagari & Sreeraj Kolora & photographed by R. S. Chintalapati.



This experience is available in paperback & ebook.

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