She turned nauseously jittery turning thirty.
Aging suited her gracefully, if she allowed it. But given to ungrounded thoughts, she began to spot crow’s feet and missed opportunities everywhere.
Her last affair had ended three years ago.
Lifetime sounded like life sentence, too vast a time zone against which to map such irrevocable loss. Too long a road lay ahead, fading out of sight near the horizon, a path she was afraid to think of treading alone. It seemed bleak, dismal, scary.
This was the one, she had determined. The One.
After her first heartbreak, it had taken her seven long years to look at a different face, open her door to another. Unknowingly he had stormed her bastion, made her smile, come in to make a cosy bubble for himself. He made her forget the old pain…then gave her new ones. Just as stormily, witlessly he was gone.
Many times afterwards, driven by enforced celibacy and abject lonesomeness, she’d ask herself, was it that big a deal, the reason she’d driven him away?
Reason, the invisible schoolmaster, standing quietly near the door, nodded assent somberly, his smile gone wry.
Her best friend got her a birthday card that autumn.
A podgy-faced bespectacled man swinging by the upturned hook of his umbrella from a thin wire strung between high-rises.
‘Hang in there!’ it read.
Time doesn’t heal , she observed. Time just adds enough distractions to waylay you. In the end you are happy to be still breathing. By the time you realize, stopping to catch a lungful of oxygen, the moment has receded far, a lot has happened in between, too many minutes marched past occupying the interval.
If she let her mind slip, the pain was still as palpable, ache as breathtaking. The wound still raw, no soothing layer of protective skin had covered it or maybe it was a skin too thin, ripped apart the second her mind touched upon it.
Time isn’t a surgeon. Time is an illusionist, a very smart one.
Forty turned out to be a placid lake.
A bottomless unstirred stretch circled by the mute peaks she loved so well. A gentle soothing coolness enters her alveoli, her veins, her neurons, her soul. She can look in its mirror and smile, the rest of her possible life smiling up at her from its waters.
As a kid she detested has-beens and could-have-beens.
Her community was infamous for ineffectual chest thumpings. Dialogues of failing abounded; ‘I could have been _______ if’ was the invariable long rope many an adult hung themselves complacently in.
I don’t want to look back at forty to find I’ve not done the things I had set out to, she told herself. At eighteen, forty seemed the far away boundary of last chance.
That was so long ago it seemed someone else’s life on another planet to her these days. At forty, she hadn’t achieved a thing in life she had hoped someday would be hers. All she was, was gloriously alive, thankfully breathing, bravely clutching a smile she radiated to the earth.
Life, they say, is what happens to you while you are busy making plans. A friend wrote of his travel experience once, a plan is the first thing that goes for a toss in the journey.
Resilience is the favourite term in her dictionary following mid-life.
Looking into the irenic surface of the giant lake she sees a new journey, a much loved older self temporarily lost.
Age is just a number, those that say in consolation are dolts.
“Silly” was a term she was labeled at eight, “Bizzare” at thirteen. “Radical” was the epithet at twenty-one.
Age isn’t a number, it is the prism the world chooses to view her through. At forty, she says nothing she didn’t at fourteen, but now, the world thinks twice before dismissing her, and has exchanged white flags for brickbats in its greetings.