My Apollos

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

On the plane to Greece I was reading ‘Apollo’, a short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in which the protagonist visits his elderly parents twice a month to naturally find them every time older and fragiler. In Adichie’s story age has not only altered and softened the parents’ bodies but also, so it seems to their son, their character. He finds his well-educated parents, both former strictly rational academics, now supporting each other’s superstitious stories, watching animal documentaries on TV and overusing Vicks VapoRub! 

My parents are not particularly well-educated and certainly no former academics. They would have probably been prosper former farmers by now, if it wasn’t for the financial crisis that still forces them to cultivate their land as their pensions are too small and selling no option for them either. Not yet. But that said, I recognise some of Adichie’s observations about parents growing old: “It was a kind of innocence, this new childhood of old age”, she writes. Mum and Dad are not as old as the couple in that story, but I notice a certain carelessness and indifference for consequences in their behaviour. I have to repeatedly tell them to watch their language or choice of stories in front of my ten-year-old who now finds Grandma and Grandpa the coolest as they always say the very funny things parents would never say. Very different to Adichie’s elders though, they also seem to have not really accept the limits of their ageing bodies: they’re in their seventies and they keep doing things that are quite worrying: dad regularly riding his tractor full speed or mum doing a four-day trip, twelve-hour each way, by bus!, to Bulgaria in deepest winter, only to come back with almost a pneumonia. 

Well, I think I better buy them a huge box full of Vicks VapoRub for Easter.


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