I am on my way to the Under 25 Lit Fest. Finding the venue, Humming Tree itself is a challenge. No, it’s not in some obscure place. It’s just that I am looking for Humming Bird. Another speaker tells me later she had been looking for Humming Bee. Come on, guys, if you are inviting old people, keep the damn place simple. Like something called ‘THE HOTEL’ or ‘THE VENUE’!
I am smiling brightly at the young folks at the registration counter. Young is peppy-smiley, I think. Wrong. Young people don’t grin. They just look bored. And if they like you, they call you names. That’s how they express ‘liking’. I toy with ‘monkey’. But, is that bad word good enough? I have no idea. Donkey? I don’t know. I zip my lips, as Donkey hands me my ‘Speaker’ badge.
I make my way to Stage 1 where my session is due. It is teeming with people with coloured hair and discoloured clothes. They are divided into two sections. Section 1 is listening to the people on stage. Section 2 is eating and drinking. I join Section 2.
Some songs are being sung now. The kids are enjoying the music. I am tapping my feet but also cringing at the bad word that is inserted when people are inquiring about the identity of one Miss Alice. Now, the singer is chatting with the crowd. He is saying he loves pot. In my days, pot was a vessel for cooking. Or a receptacle for receiving what was cooked the previous day. I am appalled. Tch. Tch. Tch. I want to go cane him on his fingers. But, I should not. I must pretend to be one of them. I don’t want to antagonize a room-full of young men – some of them are wearing stilettoes and might crush my fingers under their fancy heels.
But, why are some boys wearing girls’ shoes? No. No. Cannot ask. Also, must not stare.
Look cool. Like chilled. But how? How? The girl in front has hair with multiple personality disorder – it starts as black and straight but ends as blond and curly. I want to chop it off just where the black part ends. Stop. Stop. Look somewhere else.
Hey look – Danish Sait. I must tell him that my son is his fan and get a message from him. Wow! Great idea. I walk up to him. He is very polite and approachable. He also has short hair. Good boy. He is happy to give me a message. I thank profusely and return to my seat. I check the recording. I have turned on the camera after he ended the message. I have only recorded my finger. And myself saying ‘thank you so much’.
The evening is abuzz with more young people entering. Some are leaving. I have made a new young friend. And, a new ‘old’ one too. I turn to my young friend and say,
‘My phone’s out of juice’.
It is important to use young people’s language, you see.
New young friend does not hear me. New old one does. She offers to buy me juice from the food counter.
What a waste of my young moment. Damn!
It’s time for my session. I am making my way through the crowd to the stage, like a Moses parting a sea of young people. I want to get done with it. I want to go back to old people. Where we can wear our varicose vein stockings, remove our dentures and talk about the hair weaving treatments. Phew!