Experiences · History · Miscellaneous

On the Passing of Time (and my Grandma’s 80th birthday)

A simple premise: my Grandma’s 80th birthday. My family sits around watching an old, but recently discovered, video of my sister and me, recorded almost sixteen years ago.

On screen, I am little over three years old; my sister is not yet one. I chatter and sing and my heavy childhood lisp slightly distorts everything that I say. My sister squeaks and screams and grins at the camera, but cannot walk or even crawl. Off screen, my family howls with laughter, my not so baby sister jokes (or actually tells the truth) that I still sing just as badly and my second sister comments that she wasn’t even born at the point of this video.

The video is made of snippets of several different days. By the end of the video, in a clip filmed a few months later than the first scene, my little sister has started to crawl and she seems to be in a mad rush to escape onto the carpet, away from the rug that she has been placed on. My appearences have become more sporadic, as I have since started nursery school. My mum appears in the video at one point – congratulations to her, she looks exactly the same. My dad appears several times and my grandparents comment that he too looks the same. My sister and I certainly do not look the same (and it would be a bit concerning if we did). In fact, we are not even the same from the beginning of the video to the end, as we have grown more and more as the video has progressed.

Bahrain is beautiful. Filmed through a dusty window, we catch a peak of green grass against hazy sky, of the tall date palm standing proudly in the front garden, knowing that it really belongs there, in a way that the expat inhabitants can only dream of belonging. Excluding photographs, this is the first real glimpse that I have received of the country that I grew up in, since I last visited over four years ago. The camera pans around the room and my mum takes it on a little tour of our house. In all honesty, I do not even remember the house that appears in this film, as we moved out of it when I was just five. However, our subsequent two houses in Bahrain were exactly the same in layout, and I clearly remember them. And yet, I am still surprised at how big the house on the television is, and five years ago feels like a lifetime away.

The video ends and we are transported back to reality, to my grandparents’ house that has always provided a constant, for us now and for the children in the video. My grandma talks of the past. She tells us about the holidays that she went on as a young woman, to Paris and Venice and Egypt and beyond. She talks of her arrival in England and her childhood in Africa. She tells us about the exulsion of Asians from Uganda and we are surprised to learn that she herself was there, having been previously led to believe that she was in England at the time.

My grandma tells me about the book that she is reading on the history of India. She comments that I love history because she loves history.

My grandpa mentions his own childhood in India. He notes that only one of his (many) siblings was born in Pakistan, with the rest having lived through partition.

The babies in the video listen eagerly.

My grandma cuts her birthday cake. 80 years old!

Some flowers for my Grandma’s 80th ! šŸŒ¹

On Writing a Blog

“I’m just going to write because I cannot help it” – Charlotte BrontĆ«

Writing a blog is something that has always appealed to me.Ā Hence, this is just one along the line of many blogs that I have attempted to write throughout the last few years. This time, I am determined to keep going.

I have asked myself numerous times why all my attempts at blog writing – I am keen to resist calling it blogging, because putting an ‘official’ term on it will probably scare me away again – have been so thoroughly unsuccessful. Indeed, I do enjoy writing and I love the idea of composing a personal recordĀ of the experiences that have shaped my life – at the risk of sounding too much like a Dr. Suess quote: the books I have read and will read, the films I have watched and the places that I have travelled. So, why have I never managed to sustain a blog past a couple of months?

I think that the answer lies in the fact that, in the past, I have attempted to be too strict and ordered about the blogs I have tried to keep. I have tried to maintain a regimented posting schedule, to contract and stick to a fixed theme, to ‘engage’ with an imaginary audience. This time, I will not attempt to do that. Above all, because I have realised that I am incapable of doing so!

So, whilst I am certainly not planning on using this blog as an online diary per say – and, to be honest, I have never been at all successful at diary writing either, so it would likely be in vain even if that was my intention – I intend to write about what interests me and when it interests me. It will be my opportunity to reflect on things when need be, or when I want to, but will hold no obligation to do so.

It will be my chance to write simply because I like writing and, hopefully, when and because “I cannot help it” rather than because I feel like I should!