One rainy day in 1996, my father came home with an unusual glow in his face. He looked like he wanted to tell me something but couldn’t. It’s the first time he’d acted like that and it felt weird. He is usually pretty chatty about everything and would exaggerate stories with elaborate hand gestures and facial expressions that never fail to entertain. However, when he came in the door that day, he looked at me and handed me…a letter.
(With a daughter who’s addicted to all things Harry Potter, I am tempted to say “Hogwart’s Letter – though it almost had the same effect.)
A few weeks earlier, I took a qualifying scholarship exam to study in Japan. And that letter was all about it.
I passed the exam and would be leaving home and my father could not contain his excitement and afraid to miss all the right words if he’d speak it so he wrote it down instead.This was 1996 when we didn’t have cellphones to send text messages or internet for Facebook messages. It was the good old handwritten letters period in time.
So a couple of days back, I turned 38. Yeah, whatever. It’s another birthday but turning 38 wasn’t just “another birthday” this time. I was 19 when I left home so that meant half of my life have been spent living abroad. It has been 19 years since I got my father’s letter.
(Left is the photo when I first got my passport at 19, the right is double my age at 38)
How does it feel turning 38?
When I was 13, I looked at my mother who turned 38 and just had her sixth baby and thought, “how am I going to handle being 38? I could not possibly do it better than her!” I admit I was scared of aging because it meant more responsibilities, more children! Funny because at that time, I thought the number of children was genetic – if my mom had six, I would probably have six too or around that big number. It was a crazy thought but nevertheless it felt so true that time!
Yes, there are more responsibilities now but thankfully, lesser than six children (I only have two, that is all I can manage!).The morning I turned 38, I didn’t think of the party I’d be doing (because I don’t like parties so there’s no party) I got up and stood on my own two feet and realized my world is full of possibilities. I have a healthy family, a safe and cozy home and dreams to pursue. I have the luxury to think about the things I want to do, not just the things I have to do.I love where I am in my life right now. The past year had been so good I wonder what I did to deserve it.
But the very best part is that all of this wonder is only part of my unfolding story. Because, I’m only 38.