It’s 5.35 pm.
I board the train at Melbourne Central station at peak hour and instantly regret my decision. The train is packed with workers heading home after a long day. I squeeze myself between a fat man in a black business suit and a group of young school girls engrossed in their phones. The noise of busy commuters, the odd ray of sunlight peeping through the clouds, the cold, everything is sharper.
Nestled under an armpit I peer outside through the gap of window I can see and I mull over the phrase “better late than never.”
I am reminded of my 12th birthday - the day my grandmother passed away. Her death was what spurred my father to visit his country, Uganda, as a family, to form some connection with the people who were tied to us through blood. Coming from a mixed-interracial background I had family scattered all across the globe, which I only knew of through conversations and stories.
The schoolgirls in front of me begin an intense discussion on whether or not they should wear makeup to the gym. One suggests wearing only ‘subtle mascara and tinted moisturizer’. They argue the pros and cons and I retreat back into my thoughts. I imagine I am talking to my twelve-year-old self:
Realise that you are enough and that no vision of yourself that you wish for will ever amount to the power you hold as an individual. Summer is fast approaching and you want to stay and finish school, prepare for next year and enjoy time with your friends. Africa is not poor or hot or deserted, it is rich in an abundance of love, warmth and culture. You will meet faces you only saw in dreams, and they will greet you as if they knew you from birth.
Celebrate what is because that is what is tangible.
Whatever you want won’t appear in the way you expect.
Surrender to the fact that not everything is to be revealed.
Grow up and outgrow yourself. Understand that there is a bigger truth out there and prepare to forgive some ugly realities of this world. Forgive yourself. Know that, however many parts you are, they still make a whole when put together.
“Mascara! Definitely mascara. And waterproof so when you sweat it doesn’t look messy.”
Better late than never.
I have come to the conclusion that it is a slogan for the wise. It all has to do with time.
There is beauty in moments and the reality of the present but it is ultimately time that kills us. Just as the seasons change, we appear and then vanish, leaving behind only memories. Somewhere between opportunity and doubt, we waver, juggling the possibility of situations long gone and the ‘what ifs?’ amidst the turbulence of life.
What is there to fear?
There is no place for fear when this world doesn’t fear for you.
This article was first published on 26 July 2016