Winter by Adam Ng

Snow. White snow. The sleets of snow coming from the skies filled the air with a magical, almost surreal atmosphere. It was as if the angels were playing their symphony, and a harmonizing chord came out, enveloping the entire sphere we call Earth. I slowly trudge through the snow filled ground, delving in my memories. As long as I could remember, winter has been the annual event which as children, my friends and I would wait and shriek with laughter as the first flakes swam through the skies to touch us lightly. The cold, coupled with the warmth on my cheek, created a sensation known to us then as µangel¶s touch¶. The first flakes, under the sunlight, created a scene of paradise. As I grew older, snowmen became the forte of winter. I would roll snow into small spheres then stack the snowball high up. Next, I would put stones as the snowman¶s eyes and mouth. No snowman is complete without a carrot nose, which is precisely what I did on my µarmy¶. I recall that at that age, I once said that a snowman melting is a sad sight. In hindsight, that statement is funny in a sense. A few years later into the future, I took up snowball fighting from my older brother, the black sheep of the family. He would mould the snow into densely packed balls and throw them at pedestrians. We used to call ourselves the Winter Soldiers and go around hollering and making a hullaballoo. We also built snow forts as our µbase¶ and hide there all the while throwing our stockpiled snowball at the µopposition¶ until the deus ex machina, or Mother came out and scared the µenemy away¶. In my teenage years, I would pray like mad for snow as it meant income for me. I would become a snow sweeper, sweeping snow off people¶s porches as a source of income. My Mother would joke about me acting all grown-up and ready to leave the house. I would shake my head and laugh along. Yet the snow does not always bring good memories. I remember that day like any other. A phone call. A frantic voice. My mother¶s frail body in my hug. My brother, the one whom I idolized, had died. He passed away after driving drunk and his car slipped on ice. The impact shattered his thorax as he did not tie his safety belt. From that moment on, it was myself and Mother. Soon, in another winter, I made up my mind. I left home with few belongings, wanting to see the world and abandoning my mother at home. I became a hermit, living with my street smarts and little else. I began to adopt a criminal lifestyle, stealing, cheating and even the occasional robbery. I wasted myself on alcohol, nicotine and drugs. It was hard to believe that I took drugs, but the tension was too much. I wanted to lose myself in the world of narcotics, believing that my troubles have been solved. After few years in the world of gangsters, I rented my own house. Every winter, I would lock myself in and drink excessively. The snow seemed to burn instead of being cold,

and I felt unworthy to be out in the plain fields of snow. The pure whiteness, the virginity of snow seemed to mock me, a hardened gangster. I forsook myself, and chased everyone out of my lawn. Even the snow sweepers, children who only wanted some extra cash for the holidays, were rejected by me. Eventually, I returned home, but the house was empty. I learned from my neighbor that Mother had passed away from a heart attack. I, the only relative, the prodigal son, had been away, living in my own world. I remembered giving a scream, not of pain, but of agony, of being crippled, of my own uselessness. My memories were dispelled as I neared the City Graveyard. The trees and the graves cast ominous shadows, as if unwelcoming me. I felt afraid, but pressed on. Finally I reached the two designated graves- My brother¶s and my Mother¶s. I sat down, cleaning the graves, freeing it from snow. I wept that day. In front of my mother¶s grave, I wept. I wept for my mother, my brother and me. Finally, I left, with two lines of tears frozen by my friend winter. The snowflakes, white and pure, seemed to smile at me, smile at the one who found redemption.

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