"I have always looked to thirty as the barrier to any real or fierce delight in the passions." p. 87, Disgrace, J M Coetzee. Along with age, come indecision, indifference and diffidence, which some women laud as gravity, magnanimity and sagacity when the bearer is rich and in society. Indulgence in the puerile game of hiding and guessing makes me feel old and dirty. Evade the simplest questions like "where do you live?" and refrain from asking "What are you doing this weekend?" - for what? For safety. Talk as if I have a past and as if I know she has a past - for what? For insecurity. Insecurity is security; duplicity is responsibility; certainty is insecurity. The urge to kiss her and hug her has been withheld time and time again by some queer itching un-pin-downable thoughts. It began with a self-conceited idea: "I can hold out as long as possible, heaven can wait, right?" but now it feels like a castration. I miss the impetuous years, when pleasure and thirst for excitement pushed me to rush to intonate any tiny drop of affection to explosion and extinction. But now, I sit on my hands and wank with my mind. I can tell her my story, I want to. But I cannot tell her and I do not want to. As if it is the last cigarette for the next 30 years, I light it, get two puffs and extinguish it every two or three weeks. And the interval lengthens as the end gets shorter and shorter. You just reap what you sow. What a lie, when you can reap less than you sow.

I have not told anybody how the story ended. Sometimes I think perhaps it is because the story and the person is still a living part of me and sharing it with any person is like letting go a piece of tissue of my body, shedding a pool of my blood, which cannot be replenished now and forever. Some other times I think it is because the outward silence on this subject is the only quasi-proof I can sustain for an indifference to that affair and person. Living in the past, blinded by cloud, living with someone second best lukewarm, living on disbelief and deceit - this new me is what most people appreciate as mature. I call it phlegm.

Sam Mok