“THE STORY-LINES ON YOUR FACE”

We all grow up and grow old; that’s unavoidable. For the wise, it’s a process they fully accept.

For some (if not many), that just freaks them out – especially if you’re a woman. I know this sounds awfully unfair and I don’t mean to be sexist, but it’s true. Reality’s sometimes a bitch, okay? This is one of the reasons why people love the fact that cosmetics companies and fashion/lifestyle magazines…and also plastic surgeons, exist. People like them are here to make you feel ugly. Their ideas of eternal youth and preserved (physical) beauty make you feel bad about yourself, as if whatever you do is not good enough. As if being yourself is never (considered) enough.

This is also why some women are more than reluctant to reveal their real age, especially once they reach 35 and/or above. Why? They don’t want to be judged, even worse if they happen to live in a highly-hypocritical and shallow society. It’s one thing to expect them to be the full-time caregivers of their families; it’s another to criticise and scold them for not taking care of themselves that well anymore. I mean, what’s wrong with you, people? Why are you asking them too much? What’s with this double-standard, because not many complain that much about the same, deep lines on a man’s face?

Whatever has happened to ‘aging gracefully’? Why won’t you people just leave them alone and let them be, let them live happily?

If only we could all see beyond those lines, we might learn to appreciate old people more. Every line tells a story of their lives. It’s not always about something tragic, like a year after Dad had fallen seriously ill and started his series of treatments. I took a picture of Ma and me and showed it to one of my best friends. She’d freaked out that day.

“No way.”

“What?”

“That’s not your mother.”

“What are you talking about?” I snapped. “This is her.”

“The last time I saw her, she didn’t look that…” Old, I mentally finished, a word my best friend hadn’t had the heart to spit out. I’d realised then that – after Dad had gotten very sick – Ma had somehow aged a decade faster…in a year.

Still, those lines can also turn up from how often a person smiles or/and laughs. Like when Ma looks at her grandkids, seeing how funny, cute, and lovely they are. Like when four-year-old Gyan gave her flowers he’d picked from the garden with his nanny, cheerfully saying: “Happy birthday, Nini. I love you so much!”

Or, this is like one of the nicest guys I know, everytime he smiles as he gazes lovingly at my friend – the love of his life. I mean, think about this: if that’s the reason behind all those crow’s feet on the corners of your eyes and the lines between your nose and mouth – perhaps having those wrinkles isn’t always such a bad idea. Those wrinkles are the visual evidence of how often you smile and laugh – thanks to the people you love and those who love you in return…and how well-loved you make each other feel.

R.

(Jakarta, 21/10/2015)

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