Growing up in another culture, I learned growing older earned you respect, and you learned this really early.
In secondary school, senior girls had privileges over the junior ones despite an age difference of a scant few years–they’d punish you for the slightest trangression or send you on errands, mercilessly. And the most senior girls in the school–those in the Upper and Lower 6 classes were goddesses, with whom only the foolish or truly brave junior girls would make eye contact.In university, despite the men’s attempts to sexualize and convince us younger girls that we were better because we were “fresh meat” versus the older girls who they referred to as “old cargo” (but never to their faces and also, who unknown to us were their girlfriends), respect for maturity was accorded, still. Beyond the schools, in the city and village streets it was common to witness young adults making elaborate prostrations before elders, in greeting, or to apologize for unintentional rudeness such as bumping into them. Elders, themselves when sharing advice, began by first pointing upwards to their heads–their grey hair, that is.
These days, when I catch sight of my reflection in a mirror or shop window, I smile a little, thinking…thinking.