On smiling while wearing a face mask

There is one tiny silver lining in this pandemic nightmare.

It’s the smiles.

Given that much of the time – always, in fact, if we’re in an enclosed area – we’re wearing face masks in public, the only part of each other’s faces that we see is the eyes and the ears. The ears we always tend to ignore, so, basically, it’s the eyes only.

And it’s only now, in the era of the face mask, that I’ve come to realise how much the eyes do, in fact, smile. I thought it wouldn’t be possible to tell if someone is smiling given that their mouths are covered, but how wrong was I.

Even better, it’s impossible to give a fake smile while wearing a face mask. On the contrary, smiling eyes above the mask are a sure sign it’s the genuine thing, and it gives me such a warm feeling.

To lie, lie down and lay down the law

I need to start this long overdue gripe with some grammar. It’s about a confusing set of words having differenti meanings depending on context and on whether we’re discussing the present and the future or the past. They’re so confusing that native speakers get them wrong much of the time.

We’ll begin with the verb: to lie. If you just lie, you’re telling an untruth. If you did that yesterday you would have lied. You lie now. You lied yesterday. So many lies!

This may make you feel guilty. So much that you could need to lie down and cry. That’s what happened to me the other week. I lied and a few mintues later I lay down and cried. Now I lie down. Yesterday I lay down.

Now comes the funny part. Funny, as in strange. If I myself lie down in bed, on the floor or wherever, I, well, lie down. But. If I do that to a carpet, I’ll be laying that carpet on the floor. Later, I would lay the cutlery on the table. If I were a hen, I’d be so happy at these achievements that I would lay an egg to celebrate. Yesterday I did just that. I laid a carpet on the floor and then I laid the table. My pet hen, Chickpea, approved of this so much that she laid an egg. She turned to me and said: “Now I’ll lay an egg. Yesterday I laid five eggs.”

Excellent job! I told her.

Simple? Not at all. As I wrote earlier, even native English speakers get it wrong, in particular, singers. So many times do I have to fume silently as I listen to them shout out bad grammar all over the airwaves. The most difficult concept for them to comprehend is the distinction between the intransive ‘to lie’ and the transitive ‘to lay’. They’re probably confused by the fact that the past tense of the former, ‘to lie’ is ‘lay’.

For instance, Smokie’s lead singer, after waiting 24 years for a chance to tell his next door neighbour Alice that he fancied her, only to discover that she’d suddenly moved house, invites us to lay back in the arms of someone. Which invites the question: lay back what? Lay an egg back in his arms? Maybe he had an egg in his arms and someone took it from him? They can’t even plead poetic licence. The correct ‘lie back in the arms of someone’ wouldn’t create any problem of rhythm or rhyme in the song.

A favourite band of mine, alas, also gets it wrong when they invite someone to ‘roll over lay down and let me in’. This, too, invites the same question: lay down WHAT? Could they possibly mean they want this someone to lay down the law? The implied message being: roll over, lay down the law and let me in? Mmm, not likely. Dear Status Quo, fantastic band, it should have been:

Roll over lie down and let me in
Roll over it’s a long way where I’ve been …

It goes on. Gloria Gaynor asks her ex if he’d thought she would ‘lay down and die’. Depeche Mode even opt for a play on words:

Come on and lay with me
Come on and lie to me
Tell me you love me
Say you’re the only one …

Wrong again. All of them wrong. Does any song at all use the intransitive “to lie” properly, without substituting it with the wrong version from the past tense? I don’t know of one single instance. This can only mean that either all these English speaking singers and bands are unable to speak properly or else the dictionaries and language rule books are wrong and ‘to lay down on a sofa’ is an accepted and used form of the English language. Invoking poetic licence doesn’t quite cut it. There’s no particular poetic merit in ‘Did you think I’d lay down and die’ instead of ‘Did you think I’d lie down and die’. Gloria Gaynor uses ‘I’d lay down’ because that’s what everyone says.

There. Finally, it’s off my chest. Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, Oxford and all the rest, please take note.

Are we angels or demons?

Since a couple of years, I have started to notice a marked dissonance in Malta and its people. I go to shops, ask for and get a service, interact with the people in the brief periods when I visit. The persons who I deal with are nearly always so… sweet and gentle. In Maltese we have an expression: taz-zokkor, literally, made of sugar.

Contrast this with some (many) Maltese car drivers’ attitude – aggressive, impolite, verging on savage; the fact that they (we) have elected a band of corrupt criminals to lead the country, that the office of the prime minister is deeply implicated in the murder of a journalist and that in spite of this well known and established information, the majority of the people still support the party in government; the fact that vicious hate speech on social media and comments sections of online news beggars belief.

The former genuinely sweet, kind, helpful and gentle people and the latter… horror show. I want to believe that the hate criminals are a small minority. It’s the only way I can explain my overwhelmingly positive first hand experiences. The alternative would be that sitting behind a steering wheel and mentioning politics to Maltese people transforms many of them (us) into Mr Hyde.

“The will of the people”

“Are parliaments ignoring the will of the people?”, was the question being discussed on Euronews last night. Are they?

When I saw that question, another one immediately arose in my mind. What do they mean by “the will of the people”? For instance, I hope anyone will concede that I’m a member of the collective known as “the people”. And what is my “will”? What do I want to happen in the world? I’ll keep it as brief as possible:

  • halt population growth
  • phase out all national borders
  • phase out private car ownership
  • ban all firearms

Most people will disagree with the above list and certainly those aims do not form part of their “will”, but that doesn’t make me or them any less “people”. So, please, can we cut out all this constant “the people” want this or that? Different people want different things, and that’s basically it.

Going back to the question of whether parliaments are ignoring the will of the people. Really, Euronews (and many others, to be honest), do I really need to spell this out? Parliament is made up of the people’s representatives, delegated by the people to take collective decisions for them. If “the people” don’t like their representatives’ decisions… well, to begin with they should have been more careful when choosing their representatives in the first place. Secondly, the next time round they should choose someone they prefer better to represent them, or even run for election themselves.

So, basically, to answer your question, Euronews, parliaments ARE the will of the people.

‘The people’

The problem with the world today is the equivalent of ‘the people’ (ah, such a hallowed entity, ‘The people have spoken’, ‘The people have sent us a message’, the people this, the people that, as if we’re not all individuals with a million different opinions but a herd of goats)… Where was I? Ah, yes, the equivalent of the people choosing ‘one of us’ to drive the airplane in which they’re travelling instead of a qualified pilot. Or a classroom of ignoramuses choosing the class bully, also an ignoramus, ‘one of them’, rather than someone who is educated, respectable and respectful to represent them as class prefect.

Leading a nation, any nation but especially a large country or even a superpower, is not a joke! Having a thug at the helm in Brazil and burning up the Amazon could well push us even faster into climate catastrophe.

Mużew ta’ tfulitna

Fi Standard 4 tal-Primarja ta’ Raħal Ġdid, qed ngħidu l-bidu tas-70ijiet, dik is-sena li Malta qalbet għall-flus deċimali, inzertajt tlajt fil-klassi taz-Ziju Ġużi. Ħu missieri.

Niftakarhom pjuttost tajjeb il-preparamenti dawk iż-żminijiet li konna se naqilbu l-munita. Mil-lira sterlina Ingliża konna se nibdew nużaw il-lira Maltija. Aktar minn hekk, konna se naqilbu mis-soldi u x-xelini – 12-il sold jagħmlu xelin u għoxrin xelin jagħmlu lira – għall-milleżmi u ċ-ċenteżmi.

Niftakar tajjeb ukoll il-muniti. Is-sitt ħabbiet – li jsarrfu għal nofs sold – kienu saru rari għax il-prezzijiet kienu għolew biżżejjed biex il-ħabbiet kważi nqatgħu, tant li infatti ma kontx tara ħabba fiċ-ċirkulazzjoni. Is-sold (1 d.) kien fil-prattika l-iżgħar unità u kellu munita għalih, kannella skur. Ma kienx hemm munita ta’ żewġ soldi. Insemmi ż-żewġ soldi għax, interessanti, għal xi raġuni fl-inħawi ta’ Raħal Ġdid, il-Fgura u l-Kottonera ma konniex ngħidu żewġ soldi imma ġixx soldi, anzi preċiżament “ġissoldi”. Sabiħa ferm kienet il-munita tat-tliet soldi, kannella ċar, iżgħar mis-sold u forma ta’ skorfina. Is-sitt soldi – tkompli tiċkien u taqleb għal kulur il-fidda – assolutament qatt ma konna ngħidulha sitt soldi imma mfarrka mill-Ingliż: sikspenz. Tkompli tiela’: ix-xelin (1 s.), il-“ġixxelini” (2 s.), u l-favorita tiegħi, il-munita tal-ogħla valur qabel naqilbu għall-karti, it-tmintax irbiegħi (2 s. 6 d.). Isem ibbażat fuq sistema aktar antika li għal raġuni stramba kien l-uniku wieħed li baqa’ jintuża minn dik is-sistema. Bl-Ingliż “half crown”, li jimplika li “one crown” jiswa 5 xelini, imma dan l-isem ma kienx jintuża. Il-half crown biss, bil-Malti tmintax irbiegħi u valur ta’ 2 s. 6 d.

Tliet soldi. Ekwivalenti għal 3 ewroċenteżmi. Biha kont tixtri ġelat tal-cone ta’ Grezzju Caruana.

Min-nofs lira ‘l fuq konna nużaw karti. Nofs lira (tiswa 10 xelini), il-lira (20 xelin), 5 liri (imlaqqma “fiver”). Tenner u valur ogħla kienu rari ħafna.

Fl-iskola, dawn konna naħdmu s-somom bihom. Pereżempju, ikollok timmultiplika 5 s. 8 d. b’sebgħa. Tinsiex, 12-il sold jagħmlu xelin u 20 xelin jagħmlu lira. U dak mhu xejn. Tal-grocer (dak iż-żmien is-supermarket kien biss xi ħaġa tal-films) irid jaħdem il-kont mingħajr lanqas calculator, bil-lapes fuq biċċa karta. U ħaġa tal-għaġeb, wieħed wara l-ieħor iġibhom dejjem tajbin.

Id-data tal-qlib għad-deċimali kienet is-16 ta’ Mejju, 1972. Għadni sal-lum, 46 sena wara, id-data tas-16 ta’ Mejju tfakkarni f’meta qlibna għad-deċimali. Lira Maltija maqsuma f’mitt ċenteżmu, li kull wieħed minnhom jiswa 10 milleżmi. Kienu ħelwin wisq il-mils, tal-aluminju bil-pizzi, ikkupjati mil-Libja ta’ Gaddafi. Ir-role model tagħna ta’ dak iż-żmien…

Ovvjament, kienu kbar id-diffikultajiet li sabu n-nies biex jadattaw ruħhom anki għal sistema ħafna aktar sempliċi minn ta’ qabel. Min-naħa l-oħra, għalina t-tfal tal-iskola, fil-klassi taz-Ziju Ġużi, kien rigal mis-sema.

Ftakart f’dan kollu ftit tal-ġranet ilu meta jien u Sue morna nippassiġġaw sal-bini muniċipali ta’ Hemiksem, il-Belġju.


Fil-ġenb in-naħa ta’ wara kien hemm mużew li tidħol għalih b’xejn. Inzerta kien jum il-Ħadd iddedikat apposta għal dan.


Ma konniex nafu x’deħlin naraw, u tista’ timmaġina x’sorpriża meta l-ewwel kamra li dħalna fiha kienet prattikament il-kamra tal-klassi taz-Ziju Ġużi!


Posti kien ikun il-bank ta’ quddiem fil-filliera tax-xellug. Fuq ix-xellug tiegħi Victor Camilleri. Tgħidx kemm kien bravu Victor…


Il-kanal għal-lapsijiet imħaffer fuq quddiem tal-mejda kien magħqud f’wieħed minn tarf għall-ieħor tal-bank. Ħafna mit-tfal (konna kollha subien, ovvjament, il-bniet skola oħra li ma jmurx nitħalltu) konna norganizzaw tournaments fuq dawn il-kanali. Nimmarkaw spazju f’kull tarf tal-kanal li jkun il-“lasta”, xi ħames ċentimetri tul kull naħa. Ikollna crayon u b’subgħajna nixxuttjaw il-crayon li jitkaxkar fix-xaqq lejn in-naħa l-oħra. Jekk il-crayon jiġi kollu ‘l ġewwa mil-linja tal-lasta jkun gowl. Nispera li jaħfirhielna din it-trasgressjoni s-Sir, iz-Ziju Ġużi. Imma naħseb kien jaf u ħallieha għaddejja.

Sa anki basktijiet tal-ġilda poġġew fl-esibizzjoni! Erġajt sirt tifel daqs kemm fraħt inġedded il-memorji.


Tant rajna oġġetti minn żmien tfulitna. Gomom, temprini, linka Quink għall-fountain pen, set squares, protractor, kumpass, ir-riga t-twila tat-technical drawing. Imbagħad fi kmamar oħra kien hemm oġġetti minn oqsma oħra tal-ħajja. Radjijiet daqs dinja, immarkati bl-ismijiet tal-ibliet minn madwar id-dinja li jindikaw il-frekwenza tat-trażmissjoni short wave minn dawk l-ibliet. Settijiet oħra qishom tar-Rediffusion. Typewriters. Magni tal-ħjata bħal dik li kienet tuża ommi, imħaddma bil-pedala taħt il-mejda.


IL-KAMERA TAL-FAMILJA! Waħda eżatta bħal dawn ġibdet l-ewwel ritratt tiegħi tarbija.

baby tonio
Qabel ma ħallejt id-daqna

Ġbidt l-ewwel ritratti li ħadt jien f’Katanja u fil-muntanji ta’ Sila, Kalabrija, fl-1980. Aperture, speed, focus… imbagħad ingerbeb il-film b’attenzjoni meta jispiċċa, fid-dlam biex ma nħassarx ir-ritratti kollha. Lura Malta nieħu l-film il-ħanut ta’ ħu Pullu Axisa ta’ ħdejna biex jiżviluppali r-ritratti. Nistenna l-ġranet u nispera li joħorġu tajbin. Xi 20 cents ‘il wieħed, 24 ritratt jiswew qrib il-ħames liri (12-il ewro, dak iż-żmien somma enormi) u m’għandekx garanzija li se joħorġu tajbin.



U toys oħra bħal Lego jew Betta Bilda. Injam ikkulurit f’forom differenti. Mudelli tal-ajruplani jew tal-ferrovija jaħdmu bil-batteriji. Ah, x’memorji.

Erġajna sirna tfal f’dal-mużew

Tal-għaġeb kif inbidlet il-ħajja fi spazju ta’ nofs għomor ta’ bniedem. Tfulitna diġà saret mużew, u wieħed mill-isbaħ mużewijiet li qatt mort.

Hemiksem, fejn jinsab il-mużew, qiegħed ftit kilometri biss ‘il bogħod minn Antwerp.

Vindication, qaltlu

Xi nies għoġobhom, ftit ilu, jipproġettaw kliem ta’ protesta fuq il-Berġa ta’ Kastilja. Mhux vandaliżmu (Alla ħares), għax il-kliem kien ipproġettat bid-dawl, mhux biż-żebgħa jew xi ħaġa li tibqa’ permanenti. Il-permanenza baqgħet bis-saħħa tar-ritratti.



Messaġġ ċar u qawwi, u mistoqsija leġittima li rridu nafu t-tweġiba għaliha, li qabel ma nsiru nafuha l-pajjiż se jibqa’ avvelenat. Ebda bużullotti u spettakli ta’ aljenazzjoni u propaganda m’huma se jimpressjonawna qabel ma nsiru nafu min ordna l-qtil ta’ Daphne.

Id-difensuri ta’ “Malta”, naturalment qomsu. “Malta”, f’moħħhom, tfisser il-gvern ta’ Malta u l-persuni eletti fih.

There’s a fine line between freedom of speech and vindication,” qaltilna waħda għarfa fuq Facebook. Missha kitbet bil-Malti għax l-Ingliż ma tafux sew. Is-sentenza ma tagħmilx sens ħlief jekk tinterpreta “vindication” bħala “vendikazzjoni”. Min jaf, forsi lanqas bil-Malti ma taf tikteb. Għal ġieħna, il-profil ta’ din id-difensura qalbenija ta’ “Malta” jipproklama li għandha Master of Science…

Għall-ewwel ikkummentajt taħt din is-sentenza biex infakkarha li “vindication” m’għandha x’taqsam xejn ma’ “vendikazzjoni”, kif riedet tfisser hi. Imbagħad għidt, u xi ż-żigg, u l-kumment tiegħi ħassartu. Lanqas ħaqq il-ħela ta’ ħin jekk din toħroġ b’xi argument intelliġenti ieħor, u erġajt lura għas-silenzju tiegħi fuq Facebook.

Grazzi, Sinjura Difensura Qalbenija, M.Sc., talli qawwejtli r-riżoluzzjoni li nuża l-ħin prezzjuż tiegħi aħjar milli noqgħod nargumenta għalxejn. Kawża mitlufa jisimgħa magħha.



Aħjar il-bard ta’ Jannar milli x-xemx li ma saħħanx, jgħid il-Malti. Jiġifieri fil-fatt Jannar mhux l-agħar ħaġa immaġinabbli.

Għalija, altru li mhux. Anzi, Jannar wieħed miż-żminijiet favoriti tiegħi fis-sena kollha għax huwa l-aktar żmien ‘il bogħod possibbli mill-festi tal-Milied li għad irridu nħabbtu wiċċna magħhom. Jogħġobni għax l-eqqel tax-xitwa u ma jkunx hawn storbjijiet ta’ lawnmowers kull filgħaxija. L-istaġun tal-futbol ikun fl-aqwa tiegħu. U minn issa ‘l quddiem il-ġurnata tibda titwal.

Waħda għandu stramba Jannar. Għal xi tliet ġimgħat, għal kull persuna li wieħed jiltaqa’ magħha jew li jikkorrespondi magħha bit-telefown jew bl-internet, irid kull darba jħaddem f’moħħu l-algoritmu li ġej:

  1. Il-persuna kkonċernata ltqajt jew ikkomunikajt magħha diġà jew le minn wara l-ewwel ta’ Jannar?
  2. Jekk l-aħħar kuntatt kien qabel l-ewwel ta’ Jannar, allura wieħed jawgura s-sena t-tajba.
  3. Jekk tkun diġà ltqajt jew ikkomunikajt ma’ dik il-persuna minn wara l-ewwel ta’ Jannar, allura wieħed jgħid “Bonġu!” għax jekk tirrepeti s-“sena t-tajba” lill-istess persuna tħossok daqsxejn ridikolu.

Dawn ir-regoli trid tosservahom tajjeb għax inkella toħroġ ta’ salvaġġ.

Il-problemi jibdew jinqalgħu madwar nofs Jannar. Jiġu nies lura mill-vaganzi u ma tkunx qed iżżomm rekord ta’ min kien bil-vaganzi u min le, u wara ġimagħtejn titlef amment ta’ min rajt u min ma rajtx fi ħmistax-il ġurnata. Jiġifieri l-algoritmu li semmejt hawn fuq aktar ma jgħaddi żmien isir dejjem aktar diffiċli biex tħaddmu bi preċiżjoni (u ma toħroġx ta’ salvaġġ jew ridikolu).

Hemm oħra. M’hemm imkien imsemmi fuq id-data sakemm jibqgħu validi dawn ir-regoli. Pereżempju jekk tixtieq is-sena t-tajba lil xi ħadd fl-ewwel ta’ Marzu tingħadda b’miġnun. Fl-ewwel ta’ Frar ukoll tkun qed tistieden ħarsa stramba. Imma x’tagħmel ngħidu aħna fl-20 ta’ Jannar meta tiġi wiċċ imb’wiċċ jew tikkuntattja persuna li ma tista’ b’ebda mod tiftakar jekk għadikx kellimtha jew le minn wara l-ewwel ta’ Jannar?

Ngħid għalija, ir-reputazzjoni tiegħi diġà mitlufa u nikkuntenta bil-“Bonġu!” li m’hawnx isbaħ minnha. Mill-bqija, kif semmejt qabel, Jannar m’hawnx isbaħ minnu.

Daphne’s murder

When I read on the phone the newsflash about Daphne Caruana Galizia being killed in a car bomb I was about to trim my beard, but I didn’t do it until several days later. I couldn’t do it because I was literally trembling with shock. That evening and the following day I just followed the commentary on TV and then on Facebook. Then I couldn’t take it anymore and drove to the Parc de la Hulpe, where I hiked among the autumn colours to calm down.

I’ve read almost all of Daphne’s articles since the early 90s, when an opinion piece entitled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” appeared for the first time in the Sunday Times. It was so fresh and different from the humdrum writing we had been used to. Hard hitting. Interesting. Well written and striking a chord with me. She was putting into words my feelings about public affairs at the time, what I would have written myself if I had the ability and the opportunity to do it.

That makes 27 years of reading her views. It was as if a close friend had died, but maybe even worse, because other factors were involved. Factors of political, societal, national import. I, and I believe thousands of other like-minded people, went through a whole gamut of emotions after we heard the terrible news. I was shocked, stunned, lost for words. Sad, lost, confused. Anger came later. Anger at the corrupt regime in Malta that has allowed the country to become a haven for international criminals, money launderers and lawlessness.

I had written on Facebook, just a few hours before Daphne was killed, that Malta had become an immoral country. This next to one of so many stories on corrupt practices and crooks (“There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.” – her famous last words give me goosebumps every time I read them). This is what I wrote: Malta tgħum fil-korruzzjoni u l-ħmieġ, u l-poplu jsaffar u jċapċap għax deħlin il-flus bil-bejgħ tal-passaporti lil miljunarji li ma nafux min huma u minn fejn ġabu l-miljuni. Pajjiż u soċjetà IMMORALI.

We are angry at Joseph Muscat and his gang of crooks because, not only did they allow, but they actively promoted the gradual erosion of the rule of law in Malta. The police only prosecute small fry and let the big fish get away with murder with impunity. This time I believe it will be literally, although they may well find a scapegoat or even frame an innocent. It’s been done before. Angry, because the direct result of general lawlessness and the apparent takeover of the country by the international mafia is the murder of one of the few rational voices in the Maltese political arena.

People turned to her website, several times everyday, to read her views, her criticisms – some of which were way beyond irrelevant and personal, it was her greatest defect, it has to be said – but most important of all her exposure of wrong doing by the high and mighty. She was the nation’s conscience. She held a mirror close to society’s face, exposing its many warts, and for this an army of people hated her. Viscerally. The fact that for most of her career she tore the Labour Party to shreds added to this. Her darkest moment was when she celebrated on her website Dom Mintoff’s death. I myself wrote a blogpost about this thoroughly distasteful act.

But did she deserve to be murdered for this? Many Maltese people think so and have no shame in publicly expressing this sentiment, not realising that by their yardstick they themselves also deserve to be blown to pieces in a car bomb attack.

And now? Journalists have been warned. Stay out of our turf, or else. The population? The marmalja are celebrating Daphne’s death. The nation has lost an extremely important voice, forever. There’s a glimmer of hope that others will take up the torch from her. Politically, we’re in the wilderness. The new leader of the Opposition is inexperienced at best (he came out of the blue, never having done one iota of politics at all in his life). Worse than that, he sounds fake. I don’t trust him. He has an unsavoury past exposed by – who else? – Daphne. In fact, since last summer her (as ever, harsh) criticism has been of Adrian Delia and the new Nationalist Party that is taking shape, so much that now even many PN supporters had joined the “I hate Daphne” club.

Which is probably the reason for her last poignant cry. “The situation is desperate.” We have no one and nowhere to turn to.

Good thing that physically I’m a thousand miles from all of that. Maybe I should just switch off and let the Maltese enjoy their l-ekonomija sejra tajjeb and their traffic jams, building sites, noise and pollution. I often consider disengaging from all that’s happening over there. With Adrian Delia and his new PN I had got to the stage of “uninterested”, and then this came up bringing the whole edifice crashing down.

Poor Daphne and her family. What a tragedy.

Ix-xjuħija – introspezzjoni

Ommi dejjem tgħid li x-xjuħija hija grazzja minn Alla.

Għandha raġun. Li tkun xiħ tfisser li għelibt bosta għexieren ta’ snin u kull saram li tefgħatlek il-ħajja. Jekk nassumu li l-istat li tkun ħaj hija xi ħaġa li aħna naspiraw għaliha – u l-istint l-iktar qawwi tagħna, dak tas-sopravvivenza, jindika proprju dan – kull min iwassal sax-xjuħija għandu jqis ruħu xxurtjat li l-mumenti tiegħu tal-għarfien tal-kosmos ma waqfux ħesrem kmieni żżejjed.

Issa li għandi ħamsa u ħamsin sena qed noqrob mhux ħażin lejn din il-fażi ta’ ħajti li tant kont nibża’ minnha. Għadni ma wasaltx. Inkun “uffiċjalment” xiħ, fil-fehma tiegħi, għaxar snin oħra meta nirtira. Ikun hemmhekk li fejn jidħol ix-xogħol nibda nitqies xi ftit jew wisq skadut, u li jkun aħjar għal kulħadd u għall-ġid tiegħi li nibda l-mistrieħ mistħoqq tiegħi u nħalli l-wisa’ għal min hu aktar żagħżugħ minni.

Huwa xieraq li, fejn tidħol xjuħija, noqgħod fuq il-kelma tax-xjuħ tiegħi, il-ġenituri tiegħi stess. Meta kont tifel ma kontx ninkwieta wisq fuq il-fatt li ‘l quddiem se nixjieħ. Kont wisq konċentrat biex nikber u nagħmel xi forma ta’ suċċess minn ħajti. Li fil-fatt kien jinkwetani kien li l-għeżież ġenituri tiegħi kienu xi darba se jixjieħu. Kont ili li spiċċajt tfuliti, anzi bil-kemm kont għadni nista’ nqis ruħi aktar żagħżugħ, meta missieri għalaq sittin sena. Waqt il-festin żgħir tal-familja li għamilna għall-okkażjoni, saqsejtu, “Kif tħossok issa li għandek sittin sena?”

Ir-risposta tiegħu baqgħet ittimbrata f’moħħi. Xejn, qalli. Eżatt l-istess kif kont dejjem. L-unika differenza li ċerti affarijiet m’għadnix nista’ nagħmilhom.

Dan l-aħħar qisha tbexxqet tikka tieqa li tatni titwila lejn din il-fażi ta’ ħajti li għad irrid (nispera) ngħaddi minnha. Għal numru ta’ ġimgħat qiegħed id-dar nirkupra minn operazzjoni. Nimxi regolari imma ma nsuqx. Qisha prova ġenerali ta’ meta noħroġ bil-pensjoni. Ċerti affarijiet ma nistax nagħmilhom. Appuntu, insuq. Niġri u nagħmel l-isports… Malajr drajt u sibt biex nokkupa ruħi. U ġieni f’moħħi dak li kien qalli missieri meta kien biss ħames snin ixjeħ milli jien issa. Irrealizzajt li, tkun xiħ, tinvolvi prinċipalment żewġ affarijiet.

Waħda, aktar fraġilità fiżika. Jekk ma jkollok xejn allura tajjeb. Ħajtek tgawdiha normali mingħajr esaġerazzjonijiet. Għal ċerti affarijiet ta’ strapazz fid-dar trid tqabbad lil xi ħadd, li fil-każ tiegħi ma tagħmel differenza ta’ xejn imqabbel ma’ meta kelli 30 sena. Tista’ taħseb, ġieli wasalna li meta sar iż-żmien li nerġgħu nbajdu l-ħitan biegħna d-dar u xtrajna oħra minflokha… Insomma, tkun avvanzat fl-età stenna li jkollok tmur għand it-tabib aktar spiss, u ma tridx tqażżiżha żżejjed b’maratoni u tipprova timpressjona kemm għadek tajjeb.

L-oħra, u din bdejt nifhimha bil-mod il-mod, naturalment għax iż-żmien ma jgħaddix f’daqqa, hija li l-perspettiva tal-futur tinbidel. Meta nkunu tfal naħsbu fil-futur “remot” bina nfusna fih. Konxji li 200 sena oħra ħadd minna ma se jkun hawn, ovvjament, imma l-pjanijiet u l-prospettivi tagħna xorta waħda jkunu fit-tul. Imma aktar ma jgħaddi żmien, dawn il-prospettivi fit-tul bina nfusna preżenti jibdew jiqsaru, u r-realtà tagħna tibda dejjem aktar tikkonċerna l-immedjat u mhux xi pjanijiet fil-bogħod. Fejn qabel konna naħsbu f’termini ta’ ħamsin sena oħra issa nikkunsidraw l-għoxrin sena li jmiss. ‘Il quddiem meta wieħed ikun avvanzat sew fl-età, almenu ngħid għalija, ma nibqax nagħti kas u nkun moħħni f’issa, il-ġimgħa d-dieħla u forsi s-sajf li ġej. Il-bqija jiġri li jrid. Din mhix xi ħaġa ħażina għax aktar tapprezza l-mument milli jekk tkun moħħok f’xi pjanijiet remoti.

U sakemm Alla jtina s-saħħa u jibqa’ xi fondi mnejn inħallsu, nispera li nibqgħu nivvjaġġaw u naraw postijiet sbieħ u differenti.

Imbagħad wara jieħu ħsieb ħaddieħor.