Being my own best friend is probably even more powerful than it sounds. I’ve been groping in the dark for faith, for reason, for light. And then, I find this, written three years ago, or slightly longer…by me. And to think I’ve been brooding over bad traffic, space constraints and petty mind games. When I wrote this, my maternal uncle was battling cancer and the family plunging deeper and deeper into the despair of watching a second loved one dying before their eyes, in the space of 4 years. And I was encountering the disillusionment and vileness of the working world for the first time. Surprisingly, I pulled through. When did I forget how to? I had a little reminder.
This morning I thought that real rejuvenation could only come from the company of the young, untainted by cynicism, unbroken by disappointment. But I guess real inspiration comes from those who have weathered it already. I stand in awe of both, youth and old age.
14 October 2004
Yesterday was voting day and I left home early so I could register my vote before going to work. I felt a little silly especially since all my friends who were working shrugged and begged off and the lucky ones with a holiday decided to ‘enjoy it and chill out’. As I walked into the schoolroom, deserted as it was at the early hour, I realised I must be the only voter there below 50….and one of the few below 60.
Today I drifted back home wondering whether I’d missed a cycle and somehow the nightmare world had got interchanged with reality…I seem to be going through 18 hours in a dazed state and 8 hours in complete comprehension…instead of the other way round. I walked down the road, my vision a blur as I kept dabbing at my eyes and finally I broke down. For the first time in months I cried….and cried…and cried.
A little old lady in snow-white hair and a sleeveless terrycot dress ambled up to me, patted my shoulder and said
Are you feeling alright dear? Is there a problem? Are you not well? You can talk to me.
I managed to shake my head and indicate the phone in my hand. After the call I went to say thank you to her for caring enough to ask…and I had to stop and talk..and listen to her story. So many little things she told me….that she was 80 and loved people and life, that she had lost her husband to cancer 10 years ago and what a wonderful, loving man he had been and how much he loved her…her eyes gleamed as she said,
Cancer is a very bad thing. He was 80 years old when he died. I am 80 now.
She told me how she loved coming out for walk and talking to nice people like me, how her neighbor had taken over her house and was trying to oust her, how she cooked for herself, cleaned her house and walked and talked and was never sick.
Life has come to me in huge, overpowering waves recently.
I am watching a loved one sink into an abyss where no one can pull him out.
I am holding together like a dam against the flood of the grief of the people around me.
I am fighting battles that everyone says are routine but rough nevertheless.
Yes, there is a lot of pain in this world
There is injustice and grief and jealousy and manipulation and cruelty and sadism and weakness and terror.
But there is also hope, blind optimism perhaps but hope nevertheless
…I have seen it in slightly breathless but determined faces of the senior citizens who believe that this country is theirs to respect and run.
There is courage and compassion and inspiration….in the eyes of an 80-year old widow who fights worse battles than mine and more bravely.
Yes, life has its miracles.