Withering Heights I

I was told that I was going to get some cake with some strawberries. Strawberries with an S… I had the cake and all I literally had was a strawberry. 

I had to admit that though old, this man had a sense of humor that was both annoying and endearing at the same time. In addition to that, he made me dread being tall. What was the use of being tall when eventually, time’s winged chariot was going to bend our backs?!… almost every other tall senior I knew had a bent back. My friend’s grandmother from elementary school had a dangerous stoop that forced me to think of a tree after a storm. Branches bent, stalk bent, leaves all drooping and downward facing. It felt like time eventually taught us, tall people, a lesson or two about the kind of conceit that comes with height. We look at short people with this kind of I’m taller than you look. We strut about confidently and expect life to bow to us because we are tall. How tall are you? We are quick to fill in the blanks…and then when we meet a taller person than we are, we somehow stay on the brinks of admiration and envy. Life catches on with all of us, and the short people stay short, erect and unwavering…and then we just bend. Probably to all that conceit from earlier life. Poetic justice at best. Like big bouncy breasts that stand glorious in youth and stoop miserably low in old age. Do the smaller boobs apologize for their full mast upwardness despite the strokes of time? No. Voila la vie.

Today though, I found myself in a lighter mood. Lighter than usual. And why wouldn’t I be happier? I had this old man and the many residents who lived here to keep me in a lighter and reflective mood. The first thing I noticed when I got to this place was the ambiance. It smelt clean and had a good amount of hominess to it. The kind of hominess that manifested itself with familiar smells. Smells that clung to one’s nostrils and remained no matter how far away one went. These were smells that stayed in the memory and heart. I doubt I was ever going to forget the smells that filled this place for a  long time to come. While cinnamon filled my nostrils, I wondered how many stories were seated in the room. The seniors looked like perched and roosting chickens. I saw old age in different manifestations; some heartwarming, and some dreadfully sad. The common denominator though was the fact that there was some kind of ominous acknowledgment of the awaiting of death. I mean, what were a bunch of almost hundred-year-olds and in some cases more than a hundred years waiting for? Quite bluntly, they were waiting for it. Death the leveler. I thought it was ominous but then some of them had wholeheartedly accepted that at some point, it would come. The oldest resident questioned why God still kept her around. Hers was the kind of wait that was not altogether ominous. At her age, the only defects she had were a bad vision and bad hearing. Glorious white hair, a straight back, and a high pitched voice.  She was in better shape than others; she’d been blessed. In the land of blind people, the one-eyed man was truly king.

 

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