There are times when you have nothing much happening around, or with, you, that you learn to take paramount joy in the simple pleasures of life. Those quotidian entities that lose their vitality otherwise but carry a lot of meaning when you have time at your disposal. Like writing your diary, going for a morning walk, buttering your toast at breakfast, sewing the collar button of your shirt, polishing your shoe, or maybe the afternoon shave.


The afternoon shave is something that is blissfully ignored in the hubbub of a busy day, but which brings in a new dimension to a nondescript day of a nondescript existence. Sometime at four, sometime at five, when you gather your razor and shaving cream and brush, as if in readiness to a ceremony. Dipping the brush in tepid water smelling of schoolboy kites of summer, you paint the gaunt mandibles with rich lather. Then with one bold stroke, you dab the excess foam on the chin. Leaving the brush on the rack beside the basin, you proceed to examine your whitewashed cheeks on the mirror.


Whether the long angular sideburns or the short clean look, this decision can itself be a wholesome experience. Then you pick up the razor, cleaning it first in the cold running water from tap. Then like velvet over granite, you run the placid sharpness on the cheekbones, coming down from beneath the socket of the left eye to the chin. You stretch the skin of your neck, gingerly wiping away the foam. Then the right cheek, the same absorbing feel of steel. And then the recalcitrant stubble at the chin.


You wash your face in water, looking up at the mirror to scrutinise the effect. The blood-shot eyes, the shabby mop billowing on the forehead, the accentuated lips, the line in chaste red near the sideburns. Ah! The redness. The reward of the untimely indulgence. You press your fingers to it, smudging the line, and bring it to your tongue to get a taste of yourself.


The acuity of the aftershave washes the freshness across the obsidian face.