There is a definite chill in the air these days. We used to stumble bleary-eyed and half asleep to the bathroom to make wudhu for Fajr, but are starting to brace ourselves mentally every morning now, just so the cold floor doesn’t rudely shock us out of our stupor. It feels like we are rushing a great deal more, trying to do more… trying to finish all we can before sunset, which is eating into our days earlier than we are used to.

Winter in Islamabad is many things to me…

It is a time when we draw closer as a family. We try to conserve energy by turning on as few heaters as we possibly can and end up congregating in the same room for hours on end. We do our studies, work, crafts and reading huddled around the heater. Chores are rushed through so we can go back to the warmth. What ensues is often a great deal of clutter, but we bear with it because this is just how winter is in our small place.

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It is steaming pots of tea. We have been sampling raspberry, blackcurrant, jasmine and Moroccan mint, but nothing beats good old fashioned chai. My mother-in-law makes the best Kashmiri (pink) tea — she would simmer the leaves for hours to get a thick deep purple brew which would turn a delightful shade of rose with milk. Delicately flavoured with cardamom and crushed pistachios, it is really class in a cup.

It is huddling under layers of quilts reading books together. We’ve read a huge assortment of chapter books in this snuggly way. Past winters’ notable reads include Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Children of the Famine trilogy, Stories of the of the Prophets and the Seerah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. I think sometimes the girls learn more and best in this way — when we leave out the pencils and paper and simply reflect and discuss.

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It is delicious, hearty soups that are lovingly prepared. The girls love Lamya’s Soup, which takes a great deal of preparation but is totally worth the effort. As we enjoy the kitchen’s toasty comfort, we become more mindful about how blessed we really are. We realise that we can never thank Allah enough.

It is blissfully running out to the terrace for little picnics and play when the sun shines. The warm hours are short so we must act fast. My children love the novelty of studying and lunching outdoors. The crows that frequent the fig and jaman trees in our yard hover close, hoping that we will leave them some morsels. We do, but they only swoop down and take them when the air starts to bite and we return indoors to the warmth of our blankets and more of each other’s company.

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