Isn’t it amazing how our tastes in people, fashion, books and movies change as we move from childhood to the world of adults? We look back at some of our sartorial choices or the films we liked then and can’t help suppress a shudder.
I remember being enamoured of the dresses a friend in school — one of the many I attended during our nomadic army way of living — wore on Saturdays when we were allowed to wear ‘civvies’ to school. They were shiny and came in resplendent colours, the kind that hurt the eye, but they were the epitome of loveliness and sophistication to me.
I longed for just one such terrycot dress, but no amount of persuasion would convince my mother that I had to have a frock in this particular material. According to her, sensible cotton was what suited a child the most. Of course, she was also of the opinion that frills were frivolous and bows were impractical.
What made my envy grow by leaps and bounds was the claim of this friend who said she had a cupboard full of these dresses. However, whenever I went over to play, that mysterious cupboard was always locked or she didn’t have the permission to display her wardrobe as her mother was busy and couldn’t be disturbed.
And gullible me believed every smokescreen she threw my way, refusing to even entertain the thought that one could lie to a friend. Of course, my siblings saw through her right from the beginning but I sprang to her defence each time they teased me for being so ‘green’. No one was allowed to criticise my taste in friends.
Our concept of physical beauty also undergoes a sea change. What we considered beautiful or handsome was coloured by our limited experience and, as we grew up, we realised there was a whole new world out there that we hadn’t experienced yet.
And to think we laughed at the questionable taste of our parents when it came to the screen idols or singers they swooned over in their youth. Never did we dream that what we classed as a complete lack of taste on their part would come back to haunt us one day.
Another characteristic peculiar to humans and which also undergoes a transformation or maturing process is a sense of humour. Thankfully, we outgrow the slapstick variety although someone slipping on a banana peel can still make us laugh as long as it’s someone else. Of course, we might be more discreet about concealing our amusement instead of guffawing as a child is wont to do.
Then there is the first crush. In that first flush of feeling, that face is like a magnet, making us move towards it as if held in a spell. Seen through the eyes of love or mild lust, every feature is picture perfect. We refuse to listen to any criticism and defend our choice like a warrior defending his turf.
Years later, a faded photograph is all that is left and, gazing at it, one can’t help but wonder what was it that held one spellbound all those aeons ago..
For many of us, as children, our mother’s face held all the beauty in the world. She was the centre of our universe and every line and curve of her face was beloved to us. Then we metamorphosed into teenagers and suddenly what we beheld was an elderly woman, although she might have only been in her early thirties at the time. Hard as we tried we couldn’t imagine this person ever being our age. It seemed all mothers were born old.
When we became mothers and our children cast upon us the same critical gaze and questioned our every decision, we knew life had come full cycle.