Confronting mortality at Sunday lunch


Felt the glare of mortality during a Sunday lunch. I’d like to think this flicker of an experience might be a stepping stone to a greater understanding. Most likely I have been staring too long into my Elephant Ginger Beer (EGB)).

The crowd is a bunch of “recently marrieds” (not newly). Practically everyone knows each other either from school or university. This is after-all Sri Lanka. We are all too closely related to even consider a 4th degree of separation.

The guys amble out to the veranda with their Nth beer for a smoke. I tag along with my Elephant House Ginger Beer and try to stay upwind. It would be awkward for Mrs C and the girls to switch to full “gos” (gossip) mode if I hung around. I catch the start of an update on the latest conservative lesbian office romance as I leave the room.

Outside the talk was about chariots. Something about the power of horses and litres of engine valves. I avoid bring up the strange aircraft designs of Blom & Voss to discussion. No need to paint myself as an eccentric. As the talk sloshes around the veranda a coconut tree in the garden periodically tries to hit something by dropping a part of itself. I think it is frustrated and is trying to say something – but as a vegetarian I don’t talk to plants.

Eventually we are allowed inside to feed. The meal is gut stuffing delicious. Over desert old pictures are passed around. One in particular gives me a shock. It is a photo of a school sports team – a grinning group of chiselled featured ridiculously fit young men. I can’t believe that the lean athletic faces in the picture belong to the rotund teddy bears around the table.

Everyone else seems to have the same reaction and think its all quite funny. As they lapse into reminisces, I can’t help but be rattled by the change the guys have gone through in a handful of years.

I was never an athlete and my level of “exercise” isn’t going to make me a supermodel. But what has happened to these “athletes” is crazy. How could people who used to run multiple Ks as a “warm up” for training end up looking like jelly teddy bears? Physically some of them already resemble my parent’s “batch mates”. With mannerisms are already confirm these guys into “uncle hood”.

Their social lives a well mapped by a chain of dinner dances and annual sporting events. Attended by their friends Johnny Walker, Bacardi, Smirnoff, Absolut, and plates of deep fried “bites” with whom they hang out with a on most weekends. Usually at SPORTS club where walking to the chariot (in a cloud of cigarette smoke) is considered an athletic achievement. Luckily their wives are good chauffeurs. It is shocking what a few years of such a life can do to people.

I suppose that is how we “decay”. Some time back a north Indian prince had a slightly more expanded encounter that prompted him to give up a life of luxury to search for a way out. I am of course no prince. Just a vain insular pile of faeces. Who when getting home took a careful look in the mirror and compared it with old pictures. My rate of decay isn’t as apparent as the guys at the lunch. And they are younger than me by an year or two.

But who am I (smug with reassurance) to judge what other people do with their time, money and health? They are fundamentally good people. Easy going, generous and fun to hang out with. They make me feel normal. I’m at peace with the fact of being ephemeral as a bottle of EGB. Newly born from the fridge. I don’t taste as good but I’m O.K with that too.

10 comments

  1. Quite a shocker isn’t it!

    I believe I’m far more advanced in age than you,and honestly it is not just the visible physical changes now,that bring about disbelief, it’s also things like the slower thought processes(can’t catch the kids jokes),the weakening strength,of heart,mind,body (can’t fight them) included! I can’t even follow modern slang for god’s sake,nor play these super fast PS2 games…HEHE!yes that’s certainly mortality slapping me in the face!

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  2. hey im a carnivore, but dont have a problem talking to animals.. maybe that tree had something interesting to say about effects of smoking on ppls health. maybe even on global warming..

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  3. Ha! Thanks to my parents (Who are fit as ever even though reaching mid century mark, My father still got his six pack abs and I wrote about my Mom before😉 I only hope I will stay like them.😉

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  4. indyana: You do have a humoris take on it though🙂 which makes me think its not as bad as it might sound.

    The Whackster Its different with plants I think😉 But coconut trees tend to be a bit nutty. Specially the solitary ones in people’s gardens.

    kalusudda What’s their secret in keeping up the regular exercise? A blog post perhaps?

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  5. Cerno, our motto is never be lazy or cut corners. But also they /we have not made staying fit our mantra. Instead we find time during the day at various times. One thing is to keep a schedule and stick with it. No five minute sacrifices. As I type this, My father and brother are checking the SUV for the trip. I will drive my car as Miss Fukuoka needs to be back early on Sunday. Even though it is a fun weekend we will do some serious hiking. But I will ask them and write it in a future post! Have a good weekend, we are leaving now! Plan to get to our camp by 12:00AM.

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