I turned 25 a few months ago and haven’t noticed any significant changes about myself. I still have to routinely readjust my posture during prolonged periods of lounging on the couch. The whites of my nails haven’t been able to maintain a refined shape due to my inability to curb the impulsive need to pick at them. Plus, I’m constantly yawning, even when I’m not tired.
It’s almost as if no time has passed since I was 15.
Still, it’s been a decade since then. And there’s been no greater proof of time slipping away than what I had seen the day I last visited them.
My godparents—or well I think that’s what I should call them. I’m not quite sure of the technicalities of bearing this title and whether or not it actually entails anything in our culture. It all feels very informal. But I’ve always had a fondness for them that’s been nearly impossible to replicate elsewhere. My grandparents have been gone for a while now. And although I no longer see them very often, there’s a sense of reassurance that comes with knowing that someone is still around. That they’re nearby. I suppose proximity does dictate our perception of closeness.
They’re now in their 70s, maybe nearing their 80s. I’m not entirely sure. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of keeping up. But sometime, around two months ago, I noticed a shift. While she had her attention directed elsewhere, I snuck a glance at my godmother and studied her face. Something about it had changed. Her eyes. They had grown fainter. Lighter, brighter, like they could reflect the sun’s light right back at it. I turned to my godfather and his eyes gleamed just as hers did. I don’t recall them ever looking that way.
I felt restless. Not alarmed, more so uneasy. It was unexpected. A visible indicator of life passing by.
I returned my focus back to my godmother’s eyes and started looking for answers to questions I had never thought of asking before.
Who are you, really?
Who were you before me? Who will you be after?
I’ve been thinking a lot about permanence and its absence in our lives. How our eyes are supposedly the windows to our souls. How we grow complacent in acting upon our curiosities as we become familiar with each other.
My godparents have always existed within the perimeters of my memories, playing the role of caregivers in moments when my parents weren’t around. And I continued to view them through this lens, allowing this version of them to be the only one to persist in my mind.
It took me most of my life to realise that I was setting them up to remain as strangers to me. They had, in fact, changed. It was right there. In those eyes, with irises that have slowly lost their pigment with age. Those eyes told me that my godparents were no longer who I thought they were.
In fact, I couldn’t seem to remember a time when they didn’t look that way. Not cold or unhappy but tired and translucent. Like glass but with no way of looking in. I’m sure they were once opaque. It must have been another thing I had overlooked. One of many. Their greying hair. Drooping shoulders. Stuttering steps. Why was it so hard for me to separate these traits from them? Had there not been a time before that? Did their existence not extend beyond their relation to me?
Of course it did and I knew that. So why was I now so taken aback?
My godmother was looking at me. Her eyes filled with such earnesty, so gentle and at peace. They carried no sense of desperation. She was in no rush of figuring me out or piecing together newly learned information. She was looking at me the way you’d look at someone because you wanted to. Because you had discovered enough about them for your affection to be guaranteed.
Perhaps she knew me as I had known her. Unchanging and familiar.
Smiling, I made my way towards where she stood. My gaze softened, losing its intent. I looked at her as though I had looked at her a hundred times over. She was as I remembered. A figure of comfort. A piece of my youth. A life fully lived.
I let myself sink into her embrace and held her properly for the first time that day.
Cover image by Kush Kaushik / Pexels. The copyright of ‘Reflections On Impermanence Through The Eyes Of A 25-Year-Old ’ belongs to Dina Nasir.