A Cold Evening

With a sigh of satisfaction I made myself comfortable under the blanket, content with the thought of spending the rest of the evening reading my favourite book, Enid Blyton’s ‘The Faraway Tree’.
We had spent the entire morning hiking at Webster Falls, and while there were some beautiful sights to take in, the hike took the life out of my legs. I was exhausted and nothing could make me budge from the couch I was sprawled across. Except the corn chowder my aunt was cooking for dinner that night.

As I dreamt about the corn chowder, my aunt ran in from the kitchen with her apron still on, looking completely flustered. “Oh no, this can’t be happening”, she muttered under her breath and ran to my uncle to give him the troubling news. My uncle’s face grew grave on hearing the news, an expression I rarely saw on him. ” Shit ” he swore, and then cast a quick glance at me, wondering whether I was old enough to hear such swear words.
“Whats the matter?” enquired my mother.
“The heating system has completely stopped working” my aunt replied. “I’m surprised you can’t feel it! The temperature in the room has gone down considerably!”
I realised that it had in fact become colder, and that my grip on the blanket I was nestled in, had tightened.
“Well that’s alright, we’ll just wear extra layers  tonight”.
My aunt gave my mother a look of helplessness, and told my mother that no amount of clothes would make a difference.
Canadian Winters didn’t come for a friendly visit, they came to dominate. They meant business, and they dropped temperatures with no mercy. Coming from India, my family and I were used to a climate no lower than 15°C. In Canada, however, a temperature of -2°C raised no eyebrows.

An hour had passed, and the cold had now reached my bones. I shivered and hugged my blanket tightly. Outside the window, the porch was hidden under a thin layer of snow flakes, and the wind began to moan softly. The trees were dancing a slow sway in the wind, and created a rustle as they brushed their leaves against each other. My aunt was in a nervous state, and was trying her best to get the fire place to work. This little cavity in the wall, filled with wood and encased in a beige marble was beautifully constructed, and gave the room a warm and welcoming feel. However a fire had never burned there. It was completely unused as the heating system had never failed my aunt’s family.
My uncle then entered the room, and signalled at all of us to be quiet. He was on the phone with the mechanic.
“Yes, indeed it has stopped working… Not more than an hour back, very abruptly…yes, relatives from India… Okay, thank you, I’ll check.”
He walked out of the room, and returned a few minutes later, with a sheepish yet relieved look. Instantly we heard a ‘whirr’ and realized the heating was back on, and immediately felt the cold dissipating.
“Turns out, the main switch of the heating was off”, chuckled my uncle. “Foolish of us not to check that first”.
“Oh thank god” exclaimed my aunt, “I was so close to making reservations in a hotel for the night. But how did it get switched off? The switch is an inconspicuous little thing, hidden away behind a door”.
“Anyway, it doesn’t matter now” laughed my uncle, back to his cheery mood.

On listening to the conversation, I assumed a look of as much nonchalance as I could muster, and I slipped out of the room before the others recognized the guilt on my face.
‘Inconspicuous little thing’?! Yeah, not really. The switch was a fairly big one, with no indication of what purpose it served! And why was it behind a door? Shouldn’t the switch for the heating system be somewhere near the heating system? Or preferably on it?! It should be marked with big bold letters saying “Switch for heater. Do not switch off. Will lead to extreme cold and create anxiety among family”.
As a curious, eight year old girl, my hands wander!


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