Pubs here smell of synthetic flowers, cheap scotch and pressed towels, not the grease and stale chicken I know so well. Walking in, you hand over your passport. Above 18. Thenk ye, whit woods ye loch, ma’am? Cradling the tall stem of a glass of Bordeaux, I return to where I left the plans for Saturday. Portobello meets with resistance. Too many seagulls, not enough sun. I like seagulls. Pfft, they evil cat chasers, stole my ice cream once. Glen Coe, it is.
Saturday morning, it rains. Glen Coe is a girl in a skirt, a long train trailing. It is cheery, tropical weather at 8 degrees for the Scotsman and winter-in-june for me. I pull up my socks, there is work to be done. Ben Nevis is a shy maiden but there’s enough whisky to incapacitate the country. With largish swigs, I finish half a bottle and grab my polaroid. ‘My mouth blooms like a cut.’ An old Jacobite chugs above, the crankshafts creaking against the wind at 50 knots. This cold is sharp and wily, lips smart.
Against a smokescreen, I sit with a friend, legs dangling like the smoke in my mouth. Words swim inside but I have lost my voice. A heelain coo! Little surprises to unpack still, it moos at the carrots in my lunch. The three sisters are wearing mist now, very mysterious, beckoning the dream unfolding in me. Wrapping a poncho around, I roam about one with the white fleece. A little stream by the hills. Stunted shrubs of purple among pines. Heather. My hand lost in the sweater finds a lighter. If there is no sun, there shall be fire.
What happens if I keep walking ahead from here? Everything ends in water, even the mountains. A man kneels by the glen, dangerously underclothed. Behind him, a child waiting on her adult, arms in akimbo. The Church of St. John before which the child droops down, lulling off the bed of heather to early sleep. Strange ways to peace. In the mountains, I smell the salt of Atlantic. A stray Blackface has followed me till here. Everything ends in guilt. The cha tastes all wrong, lowering my body in a tub of water kills every cell, not sparing my Marathi brethren clutching empty pots- is it day yet? Dust and sweat. Home awaits my call. The sheep is not my friend this brittle morning.
Where to tomorrow, you reckon? Anything less green. Anything veritably dated.
Ross-lyn ross-lyn ross you say it long enough, your tongue rolls in a soft puddle of comfort. Sleep at last, the rickety bus is a warm homeward nest.