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DAWN The Review, Mar 19-25 1998

Born Again

You only live twice, or so it seems… One life starts when you are born, the other at some point in your twenties.

Somewhere in the twenties (and usually around the middle) comes a point in most people’s life which may be seen as a kind of rebirth: new relatives, new home, new vision of life, a new self.

Most people get married around this age. That means, automatically, new relatives: just as a newborn discovers a set of parents and starts learning to adjust with them, many people get a set of "parents-in-law" when in their twenties. Marriage brings not only a father-in-law, a mother-in-law but also "siblings-in-law", "cousins-in-law", "friends-in-law" – a whole new bunch of people. Some of the original relatives get pushed aside, while some (even though not all) of the old friends are no longer found compatible. If they are still bachelors, you might feel to have outgrown them and, to quote from a poem by our contemporary Harris Khalique, "Chatting long with a childhood friend/ You have outgrown/ Is playing a game of draughts/ With chesspieces."

Marriage also means a new home, of course. Whether it is created in the same old house or in a new one depends on so many factors, in some cultures chiefly on whether you are a man or a woman, but a new home there is. When the newly-wed bride or groom wakes up in the morning and looks around themselves the feeling of discovery could easily remind them of the time they first stopped crying as an infant and opened their bewildered eyes to their environment. But, of course, no one remembers that first moment of infancy and therefore the resemblance between marriage and a new birth is lost. As is the resemblance between a new birth and so many other things belonging to the age of young adulthood.

What about work, for instance? In our given system of education it is around this time that a person usually achieves their vocational qualification and starts settling down in a job that is likely to become the career. Even with those who start working earlier this is the time when after-college tuitions or part-time teaching comes to an end and the person settles down with a job or in a field where they expect themselves to stay for the rest of the life. Discovery of your new workplace could easily be like your first day at school: you like the idea of having your own copy and pencils, you don’t know your class-fellows, you are scared of the seniors, and you cry because the teachers aren’t just as kind as your parents have been. When you join a place with the idea of working their for the rest of your career, you get your portfolio which you are quite likely to like at least in the beginning (soon you will be fed up with it, just as the five year old’s excitement about new stationery gives way to the boredom of endless home work) and you have colleagues you don’t know, mid-level management that makes your life miserable like a primary school bully, and some bosses at the top who are not just as forgiving as your teachers have been just as your teachers were not as compassionate as your parents were.

Just as a young kid discovers the joys of the playground and becomes a member of the neighbourhood sports community, the young adult discovers the joy of new hobbies. No matter how many movies you have watched from your pocket money, no matter how many times you have gone to Aladin with your parents’ permission, the experience of watching a movie with money you have earned and stopping by the sea-side on an evening on your way back from the office is different. Just as your first day in the playground was your discovery of the neighbourhood sports club, this is your membership into the community of the grown-ups who are out for entertainment. 

At some point in your early life (let’s say, the first seven years of your life), you had started asking yourself the question: who am I? (Remember those days at exams when they asked you to write essay on "Myself"?) If you have kept looking for answers since then, and if you have found some answers in the first twenty-five years of your life, gained some kind of self-discovery, built a good or bad or grand or meek self-image, you can rest assured that it will all vanish out of the window one day after you blow at those twenty-five candles on the cake. With everything else changing around you, with marriage and/or work and/or career and/or new ways of entertainment you are sure to wake up one morning with a big question mark circling round your head and one big question ringing inside it: WHO AM I? For one thing, you are not what you have always believed yourself to have been. No, no, it’s not that you guessed yourself wrong in those twenty-five years of your life. You were then what you knew yourself to be. It’s just that you are not that same person anymore. You are someone else, and you need yet to learn who and what.

Welcome to the second childhood… One life for yourself, and one for your dreams.

Welcome to the second childhoodOne life for yourself, and one for your dreams.

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