martes, 28 de mayo de 2013


Our life is but a battle and a stay in a foreign land.
Marco Aurelio
For a businessman like me, shaking hands is much more than a sign of courtesy. Advisors of dubious wisdom have replaced the augurs of the past but ventured with the same arbitrariness on the future of a relationship by simply studying the way people salute each other. However, no test could be run on me. No matter what age or gender, the thought of touching another’s hand brings me into a state of morbid anxiety and uncontrollable terror. And not only is my soul disturbed: I am also assaulted by a cold sweat, hard breathing, dizziness, and a sick and strong tingling in the palms. Having spent out the dirty hands excuse I immediately started to avoid any type of social commitments. At first, I blamed it on my inveterate laziness. When I moved my office to my home and did not have to go out to work anymore there was no further need for evasions. Thus, my irrelevant peculiarity turned more evident. Relatives acted in a condescending manner when dealing with their loony uncle´s eccentricity. However, friends were not as lenient and progressively deprived me of the pleasure of their company. I did not mind or perhaps I did but I could not help myself. After much pleading, a pious niece dragged me through therapies and treatments. The most she got was a blurred diagnosis of some phobia with an unpronounceable name and a preaching against parents who do not hug, kiss or caress their children. A waste of time and a rather useless admonition; I was a child when my parents died in a car accident. In fact, it was at their burial the last time I remember shaking hands with anyone alongside the two closed caskets. An old woman, dressed in black, and also wearing a blackened headscarf approached me to express her condolences. She extended a gnarled hand, cold and rough and shook my arm with martial fervor. I'm quite sure of what she said that day. My grandparents denied the facts until they died but I swear I’m telling the truth. The strange woman promised me that the next time we met we would walk hand in hand until we arrived to the hell that awaited me.

© Pablo Martinez Burkett, 2013

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