*inspired by Nightly’s ‘Older’
I found a grey hair today. I wanted to pluck it so badly. To pull it. Inspect it. Make sure it wasn’t just my eyes playing tricks on me. I looked at my reflection in the mirror for such a long time that for the slightest second, I’d forgotten what I was even doing there in the first place. Then I was back, as my eyes fixated on the silver glimmer of my very first grey hair under the harsh bathroom lighting on a winter morning.
On the tram, I thought about when I was seven and my grandpa asked me to pull out his greys when they had just started emerging. He’d sit on a lawn chair—the plastic kind that’d been in the family for generations and yet never seemed to break—facing the backyard with a cup of coffee in hand. An iced cappuccino that was always way too sweet and filled to the top. I’d stand up on a stool behind him with a tweezer in hand. Then, I’d start pulling. When I got tired, grandpa would bribe me with coins for my piggy bank, an ice cream from the back of the freezer (hidden from all the other cousins) or let me feed the stray cats of the neighbourhood. The list went on. It would always work. We had the best times.
Over the course of the entire day, and then week, all I kept thinking about was that one damn strand of hair. Am I growing older, without truly realising it? Were moments passing me by?
On a rainy Thursday night, I called home only to cry afterwards. Things were piling up. My cousins were working, my friends were moving on. When my parents were my age, they had their plans set up. Meanwhile, I was stuck listening to the same songs on repeat and memorising every beat. I couldn’t help but think, what if I’d taken a different route? What if I’d decided to study science the way everyone in high school had expected me to? Would I be feeling any differently now?
At the end of the week, I decided to clear out my wardrobe. I needed a change, and it felt like a start. Yet, as I folded my old Disney pyjamas into a box, ready to be sent off, I couldn’t help but feel the gravity of its significance. It scared me—the fact that I was getting older as my life stayed the same.
Before bed, I scrolled through my camera roll for a little while and a photo from when I was seven popped up. There was a sinking feeling in my stomach that spread to my chest, and I clutched my phone a little tighter in my grip. My grandpa’s hair turned fully grey a few years after, and eventually, our little hairdresser moment came to an end.
It became clear to me that I’ll never be able to keep up with my life. Things are changing continuously, from one day to the next. You can’t freeze time. After breakfast comes lunch, then dinner—with snacks in between. Moving out from somewhere meant moving into another place.
I’ll find another grey hair soon, and maybe then, I’ll be brave enough to pluck it out. I’ll flush it down the toilet and go on with my day, head full of jet-black hair even under the sharp bathroom light. Perhaps by then, I’ll be a little bit more okay with the idea of the unknown. Or maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll still be the same person—the exact age I’m supposed to be right there and then. I’ll be me, led by all my past decisions.
Sitting tight on this emotional rollercoaster, I hope to make friends with fear as it is the seemingly wrong decisions that always turn out to be the absolute right ones.
I’m no good at getting older, but maybe that’s all part of the plan.