From a very young age I was taught to believe that a person with constantly cold hands was disloyal or in the words of my elders, “Bewafa.” Such people were not to be trusted, they said. I suppose I took it in jest, and so did they, when comparisons were drawn between my uncle and I, who also had these detested cold hands. He would laugh and shake his head, unconcerned and so did I. It was a matter that came up every winter, and I would dismiss it.
I despise my cold hands.
They were warm during the summers, as anyone’s would be, and as cold as ice in the winters. I didn’t know how to keep them warm, they would remain cold. Only when I would be asleep in the late hours of the night would they warm up underneath the heat of my blanket.
I suppose, there were some advantages to being cold all the time.
Once, I shook hands with a man I’d taken a fancy to. He didn’t let go of my hand but instead, clasped it between his own, trying to warm it up. It was a funny feeling.
I had never had my hand held by a man who’d been trying to warm it up, hadn’t done a lot of hand holding in general.
“How can you stand to be so cold?” He had inquired. I had merely smiled at him, and told him he didn’t need to do this. Nonsense, he had declared, you won’t be able to write with these. He was right, holding a pen had been difficult all day and I’d been frustrated with the clumsy handwriting that I’d put on paper. I liked writing on a pen and paper, as opposed to just typing away at a keyboard, as was the norm and convenience these days. I won’t say I haven’t spent nights furiously hitting those keys, trying to finish an assignment or two before the deadline struck.
There was something so relaxing about watching letters and words come into existence, slowly, as the pen moved across the paper.
These cold hands were often smudged with ink.
I thought a little further back to high school. There had been a teacher, who used to have such warm hands; I used to believe she ran a different temperature than most people. Once, before a lengthy exam, she had held both of my hands in hers and told me to revise. I’d done as she said, and by the time the dreaded sheet was handed to me, I’d been speedily jotting down the answers. I’d found out she was pregnant a little while later. She lost that child.
My mother had always been sick, her entire life. As far as I could remember, I’d been preparing myself for her demise at any given time, although it did not occur for a long, long time.
She had worked herself to her bone, to ensure I’d never have to do the same. I reminisced the feeling of her legs.
They were hard, like stones to the touch. There wasn’t any suppleness of life in them, swollen and heavy; I’d always massage them until she’d go to sleep unless it was winters. I’d try to warm my hands up before following through with the massage, but they’d remain chilled, and it would hurt her more to feel them, so she would resist.
On the winters of a time long after I had gotten a job and lived in a different city, I went to visit her. She was tired and older than I had ever seen. I did not know what to do, except for what I knew best. Rather than asking permission, I went ahead and sat down in front of the heater. I kept my hands near it, to the point they were so warm it was almost painful. I knelt in front of her, from where she sat down on her large, single, sofa chair. Before I could even touch her legs, her hands came upon my own.
She pulled me closer, so my head rested on her lap, as she just held my hands in her own. She seemed to be waiting for something. We stayed like that until there was only one person breathing in the room.
My hands were cold again.