Flames never age


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Category: Reflections 18 Feb 07


If mirrors didn’t exist, I would probably be the most ridiculous human being on earth. I would wear lip gloss and get on the phone for hours and talk to my sister and girlfriends revealing intimate details of my current relationship, endlessly analysing why he said this and what he meant by that, and should I pay him less attention or more, then conclude he wasn’t worth it, and later that evening try to squeeze in jeans two sizes too small to impress him anyhow.


My husband stands over me as I write, saying with an apologetic ahem: “You do all of this now.”


Okay, so I keep forgetting I am a grown-up with children in secondary school, a responsible citizen of society.


I think I embarrass my children grabbing their iPods, fumbling with the technology, getting them to get it on the right song by belting out Beyonce, or asking my 12-year-old daughter “How do I look in this?” after trying on a scandalous top.


The daughter rolls her eyes and the son pretends it’s not happening, and the husband shakes his head, not daring to do more.


I blame the 21-year-olds of the LLB law class that I joined on a teenage whim last September.


Once, when our “contract” law lecturer Gillian Lucky made reference to Jim Jones to make a legal point, I looked as blank as the others in the class until she called my bluff.


“I know your ages. Some of you are the same age and even older than me, so don’t pretend you are too young to remember.”


I had the grace to look sheepish. The television images of that perverted cult leader from Indiana who, thinking he was Jesus, living in a sex and drug frenzy, persuaded 1,000 people to participate in a mass suicide is a blur.


Time stays still


The truth is I have a memory like a sieve and it’s getting worse as I get older. But honestly, I was still a child in 1977.


Time passes. In my head it stays still. It happened again when I raced after a teacher wanting her to explain a point to me.


Completely forgetting she was over a decade younger than me, I approached her with a mixture of excited fear, deference, and relief over wanting to hand over your academic problem to someone older and wiser.


It was only when she looked at me and said “I don’t think you have a problem, because ‘mature’ students are generally more diligent.


“They take their time to understand problems, unlike these young people who are so impatient.”


My heart stopped.


You talkin’ to me?


I wanted to tell her what you see; a grown woman is not what I am. I am just as impatient as I was when I was 18, or 20, or 24.


Except, I am not. I am responsible for children. I have invested in life-long relationships. I can’t walk away from my life.


I take offence less easily, knowing when people are mean-spirited it’s a reflection of their insecurities not mine.


I, who used to be so cowardly at 18, am brave, I told myself two years ago, when I ran in searing heat in a marathon for which I hadn’t trained.


I felt like dying, but ran till I felt I had. I never thought my brother’s booming voice would be silenced by death. It has. The worst happened and the sky didn’t fall.


I have seen the 18-year-old gleam in people who are in their 30s 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. That’s why this Carnival I doff my hat to the teenager in us all.


I want to tell those svelte lovely children among us: We may be fatter, less fit, more wrinkled on the outside, but flames never age, they flare higher.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur