A memory of childhood.
A few weeks ago, my wife, Syahidah, was reminiscing.
“One day, when I was nine years old, I came to understand something: as an adult, you have a choice. I wanted to remember this, when I grew up, so I said to myself: remember this – as an adult you have a choice.”
Her gaze was curiously inward and a little fond, as if touched by the little girl she had been.
“Well, you did remember.”
“Yes.”, she said quietly, pleased.
I was touched by this account. It was a sweet notion, that the little girl she had been, should try to communicate with the adult she was to become, by deliberately seeking to remember an insight she had had, into adulthood. It struck me as quite a mature thing to do for the little girl she had been. It meant that she understood the unfolding of life and what she would one day become. It also meant that she felt a need to speak to her older self, when she was no longer around to be able to do so. It meant she sought a sense of continuity between the present, that would one day be past, and the future that had not yet become.
Syahidah grew a little rueful beside me, as she dwelt on her younger self’s thought.
“Of course, when you become an adult, you realize that it is sometimes a little more complicated than that.”, she observed, cryptically.
“Yes. Sometimes. There are obligations.”
We agreed, in silence – but also, I think, in appreciation of the child she had been and the wisdom she had shown to understand that quintessential difference between a child’s life and an adult’s life – but also to have wished to communicate it, to her older self.
I had never met the child she had been – but I felt then, that she had been an impressive one, in a way, for she was, even when so young, seeking to understand what life was and how it is lived, at different ages. My wife would have been an interesting child to speak to, I think. Then, again, no doubt that is why she became an interesting adult to speak to!
It is funny to consider it but I feel this tale of my wife’s brought her younger self into the room with us, as if she did, in fact, manage to speak to the future: I felt her presence, on my wife’s tongue, in my wife’s eyes and in the expression on her face. My wife’s nine year old self had succeeded in bridging time, to speak with us, across all those years. She had, in fact, spoken to the husband she could never have guessed she would one day meet. How strange -and how touching. There was a depth to that moment, that reached back across the decades to a little girl, who no longer was, and a thought that had endured.
Thank you, Syahidah, for sharing that moment. It brought your childhood alive, for me. I glimpsed who you had been and sensed the wisdom you had, even then. Thanks.
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Labels: a memory for old age, childhood, freedom of choice, growing up, In the eyes of a child, knowing the future, long-term memory, seeing the future, Syahidah Osman Cawley, understanding of the world