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September 24, 2009

Growing Up, Growing Old

I looked at myself in the mirror just now and saw an old woman with grey hair, wrinkles, double chin and flab all over. I realised that I could be my own grandmother's sister!  When did this happen?

In my heart, my childhood has never left me. When I shut my eyes I can picture many familiar scenes...  I can almost feel the green taffeta skirt that I wore one Christmas. I can see my reflection in the oval dressing mirror as I fix the Alice-band in my hair. Seated at the long black wooden dining table, I can taste the dos (mango preserve) that I licked off my fingers after the evening snack.

At sunset, after the angelus, everyone would be on the verandah with red flooring and flowerpots on the parapets. While the adults chatted or read,  we sat in the portico around the marble-topped round table doing our homework in the glow of the oil lamp. (Electricity came to our house sometime during my middle school years). In the darkness outside, depending on the season, there would be rain dripping off the tiled roof or glow-worms blinking in the trees. The sound of crickets and frogs was quite common. Occasionally the peace was broken by the singing or yelling of some neighbourhood drunk or the barking of a dog. When a cat was in heat, howls and caterwauling went on throughout the night.

Today I sit in the brightness of my living room and hear the traffic roaring past. In India, drivers honk for no reason at all. The neighbours in the apartment block  provide a cacophony of TV, music, kids playing and dogs yapping. Phones and doorbells ring. The lift rattles up and down. From the aromas drifting in I can guess what's cooking in the nearby kitchens. My dinnerplate is heated and the microwave oven contributes a beep to the noise pollution. Another day is coming to a close and I'm a day closer to the grave...

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