Black and white reminds me of the past – things that happened in colour, but are remembered in monochrome. Like an old photograph, dusted and tattered, but still so beautiful.
One of my fondest memories is that of my tenth birthday. I was obsessed with black andwhite, and bows, so much that my mother decided that as the theme for my birthday. My cake was a black and white bow, as were the invitation cards, return presents, the streamers, my outfit, the khoi bag, and even the dress code for everyone.
It was a super party – all my friends turned up, we played a whole lot of games, ate jelly, did some birthday dance, and I made a wish and happily blew the eleven candles on my cake before cutting it.
I was thrilled I was going to be ten on the 10th. I had announced it to the whole world. I even got a birthday card from this little girl in my building, Sophie, which had a big 10 painted on the cover.
London Statue and Pacing the Parcel were everyone’s favourite games. Everybody wanted to win them. When I cut the cake, everyone wanted the prettiest piece – even the little boys. Some would even climb on to the dining table to get the best of it. When I shoved a stick and burst open the khoi bag hanging on the chandelier, all my friends, including me, wanted the coolest goodies and all the confetti that fell out and rained on our heads. There are pictures somewhere, of my friends scrambling on the floor, fighting, pushing, and knocking each other off to just collect their favourite items and save them in their colourful conical birthday hats.
My mother would jokingly yell at me for trying to get the best out of my own birthday party, and she’d pull me away from the khoi bag, just so my friends could get the nice things, but I’d throw a fit, ignore her and jump right into it the mosh pit (if you may).
This year, on my 27th birthday, most of my friends showed up, there was no cake, no birthday cards, no games, just a ton of alcohol, a whole lot of cigarettes and a few presents. It just wasn’t the same.
As kids, we’d run like little mice, ringing doorbells of various neighbours’ and escape in a jiffy as soon as we rang them. We didn’t know anything about the real world and often sat on the marble stairs of my apartment in our dirty shorts and worn out oversized t-shirts, and wondered what it would be like when we got older. We were too eager to know.
Astha was a year senior to me. We lived in the same apartment. One day while playing badminton, she told me, like it was a secret, about how women get their period. I was horrified and I didn’t believe her for the first one hour that she tried to convince me. I don’t think I even entirely understood how exactly that was even possible. But I knew somewhere, that it changed my world as I had known it.
Later that day, and for many many more days and years, everytime I went to piss, I turned around, expectantly, unwillingly, to check if the faint yellow was suddenly red. I was ten, and confused and always wondered if I’d, by some good Karma, been saved.
Seven years later, it finally happened, and I don’t remember if I was relieved or really unhappy. At 27, sometimes I wish I were a boy. On some days, I still think about that conversation I had with Astha, seventeen years ago; about how that tiny piece of information hadn’t made me feel like a kid anymore.
My life was all about Hide and Seek, Frisbee Kings and Hell Heaven. About 20 of us would gather every evening and play until we were exhausted from all the running, hiding, jumping and chasing. We would finally hear our mothers call out to us and know it’s time to go home; say our sad goodbyes and promise to meet the next day. It was always the same, but we were always excited. Every single day.
At 27, I find myself wholly addicted to Tunnel Trouble on my phone, trying to beat my own goddamn score!
Now when I look back, at ten I had such silly things to worry about – waking up on time, completing my homework, fighting with my younger sister for the TV remote, polishing my shoes till they sparkled, collecting and trading stickers – these were actual big events.
My life is now about paying my rent and the million bills that come along with it, sitting in front of a stupid screen, only to come back home and scrape time for myself, where I have to fit in the five hundred things that I’m so desperately racing against time to do.
I’m pretty sure at 37 everything in my life right now is going to be remembered in blackand white. Maybe, just maybe, in Polaroid.