It has been a weird day really. I consider myself lucky enough that i was around for a family event this time. Usually I’m away at sea in more than half the cases. But this time i was glad to be there for the birthday party of my niece. She turned 4 yesterday and she is the cutest thing i have ever come across. I dont think she knows exactly who i am because we haven’t really met as much and there are usually large intervals in between. But she shook my hand and gave me a smile.
Most of the relatives who were in town made it for the party. These are faces I’ve been able to recognise since i was 5 years old. They’ve been omnipresent in my life behind the scenes and they always open up their hearts to me when i meet them. I noticed today however that there was a difference. The laughter had faded, their words were now reduced to the bare minimum and their movements restricted. Their hair had turned white, thick glasses now framed their faces and they just sat quietly by themselves. I realised that the picture i had in my head of them was almost 20 years old. 20 years had made me go from 7 to 27 but they had aged too. And the signs were there too. Someone pointed out to me that my dad had thinned out too. And it wasn’t until then that i noticed and they were right. Dad, being an army man had big biceps and broad shoulders but now his entire frame had shrunk. Today was the first time i noticed the difference. Mum too had a tough time holding the heavy ceramic plates while having lunch standing.
I met my uncle and my cousin brother later who couldn’t make it to the party. They too had changed and i was surprised how i had never paid enough attention to notice these changes in them. A sadness descended on me as i witnessed the change. These faces that were once bright as the sun, now had their brightness fading away slowly. The laughter had gone, the jokes had gone, the fun had gone and all that remained was a mere shadow of their own self.
The previous versions of them had gone and i was sad that i wasn’t around more. I was upset that i didn’t get to spend enough time with them. I was upset that i was so preoccupied in my life that i didn’t even notice that changes in my mum and dad.
I always thought i had life figured out. But all of my plans were about how to move forward and get on with it. I never realised i was missing out on what was already in front of me and around me. I have already missed out so much. I wish i hadn’t.