what’s bred in the bone


i put in a passport renewal application at the post-office the other day and could not help but feel dismayed when my passport photo was presented to me. Besides my more practical concern that I looked remarkably dodgy and was hence more likely to be prevented from crossing borders (or only after needlessly intrusive searches of my luggage and person), I was struck by how much i was beginning to resemble the older generation of my famiily on the paternal side.

The thing about getting old and memory is that when you are young, everyone looks old and hence you dont remember what your parents or aunts and uncles looked like when they are in their twenties to thirties. When you in turn hit your mid-thirties, the older generation is between fifty and sixty and for asians anyway, the rate of physical facial change slows down. Add into this the fact that your memory has improved alongside with your ability to extrapolate the effects on aging onto your own features and it becomes easier and easier to see family resemblances.

So I was standing there in the post-office looking at four faces all identical, all of whom bore discernable traces of my father, grandmother, aunts and uncles – enough that there’s no denying my ancestry and genetics – feeling dismayed. Dismayed first and foremost because I was getting old and hoped that I would age differently (ok, more gracefully) but also because as far as i’ve come and hope to continue going, i will never get away from this.

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