Sunday, May 06, 2012

The wisdom of Noraini

I have only one more birthday before I turn forty and I’ve begun to fear it like an imminent sentencing.

In the clothing stores, I still drift towards the red jeans and floaty teenage tops, but now I've become conscious of it. Just last week, I wondered if I shouldn’t be buying something age-appropriate in black, even as I eyed something with multi-coloured polka dots. So I gloomily left the store, and walked on to the Coffee Club at Orchard Fountain Square to drown my sorrows in cappuccino, where I was pleased to see my favourite waitress, Noraini, was on duty. She’d cut her hair quite drastically so I took off my headphones to chat about that.

And found she’s well over 50, though she looks 35, has four grown-up children and is expecting a grandchild. When she’s not serving coffee, she’s coaching soccer at some of the city’s best schools. Her take on this is that as you age, you need to do the things you love because otherwise you’ll grow old. She’s generally a beacon of health and good humour, and this apparently is the reason for it.

A few days before this, my uncle sent me this picture from Chicago saying: “For some strange reason I thought of you this evening”. I looked at the picture for a long time, thinking of the Stuart Weitzman store in Dubai, my first pair of “designer” shoes, the joy of six-inch heels quite unimpaired by the considerable pain involved.

Forty, shmorty. I bought the polka dots on the way back. And I walked to the station in high heels the next morning, feeling so much more exuberant – though far less comfortable – than the misguided woman who’d lately taken to wearing sensible shoes.

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