Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The tyranny of the in between is at its most oppressive at 24. So far, anyway. Not young enough to judge people for being born in the 80s, not old enough to relate to the people who judge the people born in the 90s, you're really nowhere at all. In a school, sandwiched between seventeen and seventy year olds, you feel like a student who forgot to come in uniform, or like you're forever chaperoning a younger sibling's party when your parents are still in the house. It's quite maddening, really.

"I really don't care if you bunk General class," I say to advisees, because I really don't. I know they will whether or not I threaten them with Student Handbooks and study hall. And then, remembering my conversations with teachers and in particular the terrible college essays I have read, I add "You're the ones who are screwed if you don't though, because your writing skills are awful, so do yourselves a favour and go, you'll thank us for it later, I promise." And then, remembering I am supposed to be a goddamned authority figure, I say, "You signed the Student Handbook! You have to attend all your classes! If you don't you'll get study hall!"

Defeat. Where do I belong again, the classroom or the staff room or some mythical place somewhere in the middle?

I say good morning to the principal. I call her Mrs Lastname, not by her first name, not ever. She's a teacher! Teachers don't have first names unless prefixed by a Miss or something. She tells me she is most distressed by students' use of inappropriate language. They say "awesome" when they mean "very good" and "yaar" to refer to friends and they mix their English and Urdu and they use slang and it's all quite terrible, really. Yaar, iss age pay aap retire hi kar jayen, I think. Kaafi awesome ho ga. "Yes, they should really pay more attention in General class," I pander to my audience.

One of the students wanted to know why her friend hangs out with my department, because we're so old. My ego is stung. Old, I think, is for people who have coherent memories of the time you were born! I was in kindergarten! Quite cheeky of her to say that to me, considering I'm five years...older.

24. Tyranny.

1 comment:

Tara said...

I’ve always wonder what triggers that feeling of being “old”. I remember exactly when I decided I shouldn’t be acting like a kid anymore and become a ‘young lady’, but in retrospect I don’t think I felt I had gotten old, I just wasn’t playing the part well enough anymore because I thought people expected that of me. I don’t think we ever realize we’ve gotten old even at 60 or 70 unless we think we have to. We’re always in between really. Between being a kid and a young person, a young person and an old person and then an older person and a very old person. I think age is just something we can use to exercise authority when we can or act innocent about something because we’re not ‘old enough’, the rest is just a conflict between your heart and your mind or your mind and your tongue…