A Buttered Scone I had never seen so much snow in my entire life. I stepped out of the taxi to sink in knee-high. The driver ferried my luggage to the front door. I wondered what I was doing again in Glasgow. I went up three flights of stairs, dragging suitcases with gloveless hands. My landlady was very elated to have me back. I went to the showerless bathroom to regain some warmth. He was more eager to meet me despite the treacherous frost. There was a lockdown and all roads were blocked. We walked to an inn for some tea and a buttered scone. A man in love was what I had to confront in a moment of passion that seemed to defy gods and prepared was he for all battles ahead. I simply wanted friendship, the peace I felt in that inn, a harmless chat over endless affinities that bonded us, the drives to the countryside and feeding Knightswood’s swans. I still wonder whether selfishness is genetic or nurtured in households. The valor and chivalry had melted with Scottish snows. Within a year, I lost the friend I valued most. Cracks I see the cracks of a well-painted wall, the cracks of words whose insincerity is heavily cloaked, and those of a psyche whose childhood was fissured with gall. I hear the cracks of a disintegrating soul, the cracks of a conscience that had been frozen by the lure of gold, and those of a backbone whose owner prefers to crawl. I feel the cracks that corrugate our globe, the cracks of a nation that has been overburdened with wars, and those of a mind that totters beneath its load. Roundness The substance of my life has been abounding with stocks, a disconcerting surplus of flatness that has left me without a single companion. Myriads of characters are reminiscent of medieval types. The gullible are set against scoundrels whose goodness has been bled to death. Black and white have forbidden any other colors to trespass. On the streets, the crowd is a mass of callousness, whose multitudes are wearing the very same mask, a cloak of nonchalance. The roundness I yearn for is only to be had in films and books. No wonder I fall for the heroes I view and peruse, for Hardy’s Gabriel Oak whose love endures, for Dickens’s Sydney Carton who readily quits the world, for Edward Scissorhands chiseling ice to grace Kim’s Christmas with snow, for Clive Owen as the Last Knight in chivalrous throes, for every personage who possesses a full-fledged soul. Winter When trees are denuded, we put on layers and layers of clothing, for winter spells out its might, not in furs, but in strata of old and new underwear. I walk the streets like a bloated bear. My feet absorb the dampness of the earth. Like pine needles, my stiff, frost-bitten hair protrudes from beneath my flimsy hat to receive snowflakes. Our fireplace is logless and bare. We do not believe in cutting friends. And since fuel is embargoed and hard to obtain, we heap blankets upon our frames. The essence of warmth I cannot ascertain by word or image, by hand or face. The only memory I have of a flame is a candle that burns on his grave. A Requiem I entrusted him with my mouth, its knots of nerves. He anaesthetized with an errant needle that swerved, hitting a nerve that sent shudders through lips and nose. He drilled a hole as deep as an abyss, perforated with a hand that went amiss, then embalmed the whole with a Pharaonic substance. But pain soon shrieked with renewed force. The unsealing of the tooth began to unfold the remnants of a nerve that had been left to rot. Like chimney sweepers in Victorian times, he thrust his fingers through my gaping mouth to unplug the sewage of a tooth’ canals. Months of endurance saved not its life. A nerve now twitches beneath my eye, resonating to the requiem of an early demise.