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Book Nook

Published: Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday April 21, 2014 MYT 7:48:49 PM

The confidence of ageing

Young reader: Our ageing columnist is glad that not all Gen Z kids are hooked permanently to electronic devices. — File photo

Young reader: Our ageing columnist is glad that not all Gen Z kids are hooked permanently to electronic devices. — File photo

We older readers have the advantage over younger ones sometimes.

OUR hands tremble if we hold them up at eye level and look carefully. They have become thinner, drier, and the half-moons of our nails are slowly disappearing, as are our fingerprints. We, the once flamboyant members of Gen X, are ageing, and if you happen to be living with members of both Gen Y and Z, the difference is stark and depressing.

Like most Gen Y and Z kids, the ones that I live with love their electronic gadgets. My daughter has her own iPad (blame it on me!) and she loves it to bits. My son has his tablet (his dad bought it) but he, surprisingly for a boy, is a controlled geek because he can easily switch from electronic to printed books.

Which brings us back to this column – book nooks are everywhere in my house to ensure my kids are immersed in a world where printed materials still rule. My daughter’s newly purchased book is in her bag as she goes out and about, and her library books are here, there and everywhere, so when I force her to stop, she can just switch off the gadget and turn to books easily.

My nephew is a member of Gen Y. Reticent and courteous, he does not read, however. Words come to him in textbooks, he does not search them out.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see a handsome chap like him walking down the street or waiting for a bus with a book in his hand? Not cool! What his old aunt thinks isn’t going to go down well with his peers. How sad! Books can be an awesome accessory to complement stylish Ts and skinny pants, but they opt for an earring instead. So he went to have his ear pierced and a diamond stud now flickers, instead of a “boring” book that croons lovely tales.

When my Gen Z kids do read, they read with me, and that is about the only consolation I have these days (other than knowing my hair has grown longer and my skin smoother for whatever reasons that defy nature). When they read, I feel we are treading the same ground. We love books and stories, and we speak gleefully about them.

Their faces glow because of the excitement, and I naturally think the same glow appears on mine too. Their smiles show off teeth that seem blindingly white, and that whiteness lends light to my own gnashers, bleaching away coffee stains. I feel even more alive when they invite me into their stories by letting me read them. I love it! I become a Gen X-er who is re-living days as innocent and pure as those enjoyed by the Gen Z kids.

Meanwhile, my Gen Y nephew had difficulty understanding an article in the financial papers one day and needed my help. As I went through the piece, explaining each concept with ease to him, I felt empowered. Every sentence and economic concept seemed plainly simple to me, but to him, they were indecipherable. I could feel a glow appearing on my face; it was the glow of confidence, knowledge and maturity. That is the kind of glow that kids of Gen Y can’t have, something more valuable than the glam they get from stylishness and youth.

So at the desk when I work or on the lounge as I digest the newspapers, the chasm between Gen X and Gen Z becomes smaller. My rough fingers move swiftly and decisively across the keyboard, and I can weave an awe-striking 300-word narrative in less than 15 minutes, a feat they still find difficult to pull off as primary students. Having lived and read for ages, I am gold in their eyes even as I am becoming wrinkly and losing energy.

“Jonn, could you pass me the book I was reading last night in my bedroom?”

“Oh, is that the one about an old man loving a woman in times of cholera?” he asked, observing the old man on the book’s back cover. “The woman he is in love with seems awfully young for his age, mum.”

I sighed. There is no getting away from their daily reminders of my age. Yes, we are old but we do know the old man on the back cover is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Columbian Nobel Prize laureate renowned for his ability to tell Spanish love stories. His book that I am currently reading, Love In The Time Of Cholera, looks old fashioned and its title seems cheesy in the eyes of kids from Gen Y and Z, but they don’t know that it is one of the greatest books ever written about love.

> Age has taken its final hold on Abby Wong’s most loved author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died on April 17. Abby imagines him in his last days, writing with trembling hands ... just like her.

Tags / Keywords: Opinion, Lifestyle, Book Nook, books, Abby Wong, column, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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