Out there, Snowy flakes have fallen in layers And coated the grey mud With sugary white surface. Rugged wall-faces and shelters excepted. There is an ethereal gleam Of white spread profusely everywhere. Clouds redouble hiding sun’s face. Squall in streets anticipate More fleece-fall from mid skies. A muddy room choked by frost Stands closed with a brick tilted up against the door. Night has chased with its cold hands The whole family towards the fire-place. Mother has heated water with dung cakes. A big steel tray lies in the middle of the room. With a cheap soap and carpet shred for scrubbing Mother washes each in turn. A child sits in the tray trembling. There is steam whirling in the air And screams of children from scrubbing. Water is sprinkled everywhere On the clay-floor in tiny puddles. Sweat drops appear on mother’s nose Having washed all her little animals, She scatters ashes over the wet floor, Anoints the whimpering children with Vaseline. They complain of burning sensations everywhere. Soon they slip away into oblivion. Mother remains awake until late. Her fears curl up beside fireplace. The old clock ticks to annoy the dark silence. Fire sings the old shoe with blue flames. She pokes the ashes coming out, And wait like buried ruins for no one. The writer is a student of English Literature at Government College University, Lahore and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, December 26th 2017.