A Touch in the Snow
By Veronica Nkwocha
I sat looking through the window of our car, enthralled by the wisps of snow drifting across the face of the tarred road like smoke from faded embers; the road a never ending rolled out lump of grey coal. Moscow in January; my first experience of -23 degrees Celsius and I was mesmerised by the audacity of Man, his sheer doggedness in surviving the odds whether it be the Sahara or Siberia, life carries on.
It was a chilly morning. The winter winds blew the dusty snow across the wide roads. Cars honked and passed themselves all in a hurry to get to their destinations; anywhere else was better than the bitter, cold and grey morning. Passers-by trudged on, wrapped in tightly bound coats, hats worn close and scarves wrapped around their ears. They were perhaps urged on by thoughts of a warm cup of coffee, hot borsch soup which was my personal favourite or a hug from loved ones. Christmas trees and lights punctuated the landscape soothing the harshness from Mother Nature.
We pulled up at the Moscow War Memorial and walked around the grounds covered in at least a few inches of snow. We were glad the pathways were clear. The Memorial was a wide and expansive landscape, dotted here and there with relics of a past war; canons, tanks, all silent, bearing echoes of a roaring past; a graveyard to the machinery and a tribute to the fallen.
We stopped to look at the imposing Statue of St George. He rode high up, frozen in time wielding a long spear. He was resplendent in the pale morning light and majestic on an elegant and proud looking horse raring up on its hind legs, celebrating the slaying of the fabled dragon. Muscovites milled around taking photographs, whole families laughing and chatting walked past.
In a sea of white snow, another ‘white’ caught my attention; coming from the distance was a bride in wedding dress! Her bouquet of flowers clutched in her hands and her entourage: a groom, the best man and bridesmaids, surrounding her. She had the most charming smile to finish her look and obligatory furry coats. They saw us and talked among themselves all the while holding a bottle of champagne and a few glasses, trimmings of ribbons and a pink sash worn by the best man.
The groom spoke to my husband. He conversed with them in faltering Russian and said they would like a photo with us. We cheerfully obliged and stood like old time friends, posing with arms across one another’s shoulders and then peeking afterwards at the images on our cameras and laughing. Even though I didn’t understand a word of what they said, we were happy to share their special moment; strangers passing by, touching for the barest moment and moving on.
I smiled as the bitter winds lost their battle to freeze the warmth in my heart; we captioned the pictures ‘From Russia with Love’.