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
stands over me as I write, saying with an apologetic ahem: “You do all of
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
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
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.
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.
In my head it stays still. It happened again when I raced after a teacher
wanting her to explain a point to me.
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.
their time to understand problems, unlike these young people who are so
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.
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
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.