Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, October 21, 2004





Phase transition

By Jennifer Ashraf

I consulted my crystal ball today, for a glimpse into your life. Curious? Take a look…

1 to 10 years: Welcome! As a new visitor in this world, the first ten years of your life will undoubtedly be your most enjoyable. The biggest concern in your life will be keeping track of all your favorite cartoons on Cartoon Network, making sure that you end up missing none of them. Your parents will probably be ready to kill you for hogging the TV all the time! Yet, you lucky brat, you know that you are invincible! Your parents are so tender towards you, that they don't really mind making small sacrifices, do they? You know this for sure as every time you want to miss school, as you have to do is bawl for a good fifteen minutes before you're excused. They also humor your numerous tantrums when you generally feel like giving them a hard time, even bribing you with chocolate to shut you up. Watch out on that chocolate though; you don't want to get fat, do you?

11 to 20 years: A funny time actually. You pass your teen phase and move on (almost) to the twenties. Congratulations! You might not be aware yet, but this is probably the most difficult phase of a Homo Sapien's (human) life. Survive this, and then its plain sailing all the way. There are a few unexpected changes, aren't there? Firstly, I am sure you'll notice how your best friends since childhood (yes, obviously your parents; who else would befriend you while you stayed home watching all those cartoons alone?) have reentered you life, but with a slightly different role… as dictators! Out of nowhere they start making discreet inquiries about the new 'friends' in your life, what you do in your spare time, who is the new person that you spend hours talking to on the phone, etc, etc! You start resenting your younger siblings, especially when they begin divulging all your secrets to friends (trust me, this can be particularly painful). Your life is constantly a maze of happenings… latest trends, gossip, zits, obsessive weight control, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, school life, college life, and the onset of university of life. Phew!

21 to 30 years: Finally! You're regarded as a grown up, with the absolute freedom to live life as you wish. Unfortunately, you are also way past the carefree adolescent mentally, and now have begun to grasp the true meaning of that scary word… 'Responsibility'. Your life seems to have unavoidably fallen into a routine, and there are times when you are forced to acknowledge that you have become 'dull'. Family life becomes a first priority as school, college and university friends gradually seem to drift away, retreating into the worlds of their own families. Look out as your parents seem to think its time they 'packed you off' (in simpler words, get you married). Unsuitable romances and affairs come screeching to a halt, as parents hastily tie the knot. Teenage rebelling tendencies are forgotten, as you tentatively approach the new and mature world, which you have always scorned, but inevitably are about to enter. Wishing you the best of luck.

31 to 40 years: Hmm…by now you are definitely a proud parent of an adorable child. You marvel at the perfect mouth, perfect nose, and perfect fingers as the newborn baby gazes up at you through perfect eyes! You simply can't wait to start playing the role of the perfect parent. Yet, you are in for a shock. This 'perfect' person soon starts displaying their flaws, as they grow up. You gradually begin to get sick and tired of his/her feeble excuses to miss school, constant addiction to the TV (hey, you're missing all those favorite programs!), and their constant temper tantrums when they cant have their way. You finally lose control one day and spank the kid (hard), while a torrential stream of tears rush out from those 'perfect' accusing eyes to greet you. Feeling guilty, you decide a trip to your mother is a definite on the agenda, where you can discuss the demerits of your growing child. You are visibly shocked when she reprimands you for your recent behavior. 'Tsk, tsk,' she says, 'you were exactly the same when you were that age! Now, what would have happened to you, if I had lost control and spanked you till you …'. You steam off without letting her finish. She has some nerve, comparing your childhood to that brat in your house! You were nothing like that. Or were you?

41 to 50 years: It's really funny how time flies. You 'little child' has now grown up to be a teen. The rebelling qualities you yourself displayed during that age are reflected in him/her. However, instead of fighting it or reprimanding, you act like you couldn't care less, often even supporting them. You are particularly amused one day when your child marches up to you one day and demands to know why you cannot be more overbearing and bossy like the other parents are. You reflect on how times have changed… in your time you would have given anything to possess so much freedom. For propriety's sake you try to act a bit stricter, but don't try so hard. After all, you are aware that it's nothing more than a passing phase, which will pass soon. You suddenly run into your best friend from your teen years, and drag her home for gossip. Over tea, you are painfully aware of how things have drastically changed. The best friend, to whom you used to shamelessly confess all your secrets to, no longer exists; the person sitting across you now is a complete stranger. Afterwards, you sigh, reliving cherished memories. Time and tide wait for none…a sad fact of life. Social life aside, your work life isn't that wonderful either. Even after constant devotion to your work, you finally realize that no matter how many promotions you get, an 'un-bossable' position simply doesn't exist. It's simply another sad fact of life.

51 to 60 years: You're torn between wanting to scream out loud and wanting to let your hair down and party all night, as you child proudly places your newborn GRANDCHILD into your outstretched arms. Of course, at your age, it would be insane to jump so totally out of character, although you are constantly itching to do so. Life has turned out to be cruel… you now have wrinkled skin, grey hair, and all those dreaded gifts that old age brings with it (although its hard to regard yourself as being an old person!). It seems like everywhere you look, you catch a glimpse of lost youth. Days are spent agonizing about mistakes made during your youthful days, and memories of a few silly stunts occasionally bring a smile to your face. You are constantly bored, but have nothing to do as you have given up work even (retired) to spend more time with your family. You are hardly prepared for the indifference with which your children and family regard your retirement. Sometimes its almost as if they resent you for upsetting their settled routine with your presence. Scary. Even your growing grandchildren find those lousy cartoons on TV more entertaining than being with you. Once more you are painfully aware of how selfish you were in your childhood, not wanting to leave your precious TV to spend a mere half hour with your aging grandparents.

61 to 70 years: You have finally grown up, mentally and emotionally. Congrats! For the first time in your life, you have stopped viewing yourself as a constant victim of circumstances, and have began to regard yourself as others do. You have realized all your mistakes, errors and faults, which you have been blind to all these years. You desperately want to put things right, but realize that the time has passed. It's okay, as you are grown up enough to accept this easily as well. You decided its time you did something constructive. With this in mind you sit down to write your memoirs. Writing come easily as you rapidly recollect the last sixty-nine years of your life. Life once again becomes a routine for you a routine of sheer boredom. You spend a lot of time lying impassively just thinking of times gone by, with a smile on your face. And that is how your family finds you, with your eyes closed and a fixed smile on your face. Alas, your soul has departed from your body just a little while back…

It's funny how time flies, how you constantly wish for something to happen and then when it finally happens, you simply want more. Optimists call it ambition; pessimists say its greed; ordinary people don't even consider it long enough to give it a name. My message which I wanted to convey through this relatively long article is simple…
live every second of life to its limit. Do anything and everything you want, because no matter what the consequences, life is too short to waste.





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