It has been a lazy couple of days. I have abandoned all attempts of working through this long weekend. I am just about managing to keep the mood somewhat above neutral, and surely am not going to be able to weigh things like my feelings on Monday when the harsh reality of four days wasted will hit me, and such like. Thankfully mum being around means I cannot get much into random contemplative moods by my own lone self. We tried to go shopping on thursday. It was a production. We called the driver. We convinced the child to sleep early. We got ready. Drank our coffee. Made our list. But we tucked our tails in and scurried back home in under an hour. We are not equal to this task any more. So what if the non-stick pan has black stuff coming out from its center? So be it. We did some cleaning. That felt good. Our bedroom is of passable hygiene standards now. I changed curtains.
Okay. So all through my twenties I was looking forward to things. My degrees, which I am awfully fond of. They were there, ahead of me. I had to work towards them, I enjoyed that stuff broadly. The exams, the research work, attending conferences, writing papers, drinking beer, travelling around in a backpack. My husband. Our marriage. No, not the ceremony, that stuff means very little to me. I do dislike rituals and even traditions a fair bit. But, you know, that life of togetherness and stuff. That stuff felt good in my twenties. My job. I used to dream about it. It has not been the way I dreamt about it in some ways, but in some ways it has been even better. Anyway my twenties brought me that too, making it overall real nice.
Right now though, on the cusp of another dreaded birthday, the words that flit around in my mind are - it is the beginning of the end now. If the past decade was all about beginnings, real ones, this one feels quite like the start of ends. I can see and feel the signs. There is my hair for one. I have never been a person who hung anything by appearances, but one thing that stuck to me always was that through all his health problems my dad had this shock of hair on his head. Really tough hair. Having inherited that from him, I guess I was quite blase about it. I remember thinking, along with my 'best' friend in school, that I had too much hair. It has always been quite unmanageable, and she would say, if we had about half of this amount, we could manage it better. And last week, the doctor took a look, scrabbed around the top of my head, and declared, 'It is visibly thinning.'
Which is fine, I still don't look bald, and there is always the inspiration of a Persis Khambatta, wigs, Britney Spears. And, really, I don't work with radioactive things knowingly, nor am I undergoing chemotherapy, so, perhaps its a reversible change. Though, the bones tell the same story! (that of aging in a polluted world? perhaps..) My muscles go to mush if I skip exercising for even a week. The abs have long given up the fight of course. And lately, in the past month, people are commenting variously as 'Have you been sick?' 'Have you been exercising a lot?' to the point of scaring me. Well, not scared actually. I usually take these things as compliments. At least that is what I tell them. You think I have lost weight? That's good. You think I look 'healthy' (meaning fat). That's good. I take it as a compliment.
Death is welcome. I have met it. I have hated it as well, though. It took my dad, my two grandfathers, aunts, uncles, a cousin, a friend. It did matter a LOT in 2000 when it was my father. But as pertained to myself, it is welcome. I don't anticipate it will come soon. But of course, it will come some day. When I walk in to a room and people look up with a smile and say 'You will live to be a hundred, we were just talking about you' I usually cringe (even though I don't believe that superstition, or any other, for that matter). I don't particularly want to live to be a hundred years old. I mean, no slur on people who are a century old, but I am just tired even thinking about the next 66 years of existence that that will demand. Too many decades. So death, she is welcome to come to me, I am not afraid of her, at least not as much troubled at her imminence as at the thought of living to be a hundred.
Its a leap. If optimism were plotted on a graph against age, I hit the peak several years ago. That is what it is. The light is visible. I used to say that often several years ago when I was seeing my thesis shape up. But no, I did not say that during my fat nine month pregnancy. There was fear at the end of that time period. Thank god most of those fears were just random ones and I have a beautiful (yet monstrous) child for the efforts. In general a lot more satisfying than three hundred pages on acid-free paper. I want to see her grow up (and I will, I needn't add). Be there hiding tears when she dons her first uniform. Fondle the pilot's wings or the newspaper with her article in it or, if life were to come a full circle, watch her walk the walk to receive her degree, or if the circle were to invert, watch her first stage show playing the drums (whatever it is her heart desires to do, in other words). It could be fun. She is fun, despite the fact that I have to rear her.
But oh! The keeping oneself healthy, robust, to meet challenges head on, to walk into a shop and emerge with things one needs, to meet people and get things done that one needs, papers, certificates, plumbing, onions, I feel unequal to these things half the time. Which tells me, if I were to contract some debilitating illness (no, not the thinning hair thing, something real and notably worry-worthy; and yes, I use the word contract loosely), will I
(a) Recognise that time is short and try to make the most of it? Go on a cruise (I would like to, you know, except that there might be too much food which is sort of a sickening thought). Climb a mountain (not the Everest, something smaller). Call people and tell them I love them (thats a lot of calls, I love a lot of people, really).
(b) Crawl into a cocoon and eat chocolates.
If someone told me to get a hold on myself, if I received a wake-up call of sorts (no, not the thinning hair, or perhaps that too), would I
(a) Throw out the mini-booze bottles in the bottom drawer and effectively clean up my act
(b) Drink up the mini-booze bottles and effectively push things over the edge.
It is not clear. I would like to believe I am (a) I am strong. I like exercise. I love vegetables. I love people. I love my job, and cooking. My family is supportive, loves me, and kind of rocks. I have an armload of things and people that should push me towards being a person you can be proud of. A person you will point to and say 'look at her, strong. even in adversity.' But sometimes, I don't want to be like that. I want to loosen up. Perhaps, thats what I need, loosen up.
Plastic bags, viruses, mosquitoes, my carbon footprint, the nano car, pesticides, water shortage, curfews, accounts to settle, crowds, these things might not go away. I am unlikely to be the president of the world so there is a point beyond which there is no use in my worrying about them. I am mortal (thank someone). These things will last only so long. In a way, that's good. The end has begun and its only a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on with a reasonable sense of gratitude for what there is and a normal sense of loss for what used to be. There, I feel better now. I will let that reflect in the title as well. Thank you, words.