December 3, 2010

Looking Back...

I have to rush out but I really need to write down those impressions before heading for the door...

I went through my usual Friday morning ritual; buy the daily paper, and go for a coffee. I always try to find a secluded corner - I hate noise, and am not too friendly with crowds. I found a nice spot by the window. I like being by the window, makes me feel part of the outside world yet this transparent glass acts like some barrier, frontier, border, separation...a necessary distance.

Ten minutes later, 2 elderly couples walked in, they must have been in their mid to late 70's. Am not really good at guessing ages - anything beyond 40 is difficult for me to figure out.

At first, I felt an annoyance stir up in me, after all I went to great length to find that exact spot and now it's being invaded by two couples. But they looked jovial and happy, the ladies were elegantly dressed and the husbands looked caring. A refreshing breeze from the usual stale energy and the deep frowning lines engraved like some national trademark, some stamp of national recognition...

My slight irritation eased off as I observed these two couples reminiscing with joy at some past stories. They talked of a certain wedding where the bride tripped, a cousin's birthday party, a vacation they took together...and they found it all very amusing, laughing their heads off...

They were looking back in time...

I noticed that about the elderly, whenever they converse together or when you actually take time to talk to them and listen, they will almost always refer to the past...to some reservoir of memories and souvenirs that they have kept like a photo album in their minds...

Could it be that when one reaches old age, the future is no longer relevant ? Could it be that when you are in your 70's, 80's and death is sure to knock on your door, leading you to the Unknown -- the past becomes your anchor, your raison d'ĂȘtre to continue your remaining days with a little joy ?

From my observations, I feel this is very much the case.

Of course, as in situations like this one, my mind always takes me back to Iraq...and I wondered what will the elderly of Iraq fall back onto ? What kind of memories and souvenirs ?

I noticed the glass window separating me from the outside world growing denser, more opaque, misty, as if covered with a fog, a cloud of smoke and exhaling breaths...

The place was slowly filling up, it was time for me to find another spot.