The Picture

by Simon Sage, Firs page of two only.


      I am looking at this old photograph and wonder; “what is this baby thinking about?” Eyes wide open, looking curiously at her mother, not at the camera. The skirt she is wearing suggests that she is a girl. Others thought he was a boy. They say that in the ‘old days’, it was commonplace to dress baby boys in older sisters outgrown dresses. No, I think, this is definitely a girl. Her little toes are curled, and Darwin comes to mind; we are struggling descendants of apes.

      The baby is cute. Her tiny open mouth suggests that she will have an extrovert personality as she grows into womanhood. My friend says she has indeed become a stunning beauty. I wonder how many young men she attracted? Did she became promiscuous or chaste or did she marry and became a lovable supportive wife and mother? Maybe she became frustrated and left her family for a more exciting life? She may have remained single and became a poet or an unconventionally creative person.

      Her picture is silent. Her gazing eyes a mystery. I think: “Perhaps she is now dead”. Her life remains unknown to me forever, just like the future that lies ahead of my two grandchildren. Surely, I will be gone and long forgotten by the time the boys grow up. The little girl’s picture make me wonder; what will become of my young descendants? I am worried, and gravely concerned.

      Does this modern, well-provided life in Canada have a negative influence upon them? Will they become soft, lacking ambition? They don’t have to face hardships, like my generation did. They never have to do house chores, or real work, as my brother and I had to do. They don’t have to help parents to maintain a household. They never have to chop wood, clean the stoves, keep the fire burning, draw dozens of pails of water from the well to water the vegetable garden, feed the poultry, clean and fill up coal oil lamps, carry weighty loads of bread to and from the bakery. I knew that our mother got up at four o’clock in the morning, working the heavy bread dough, so I never complained about sore arms.

      My grandchildren don’t help their mother. They sit in front of the TV, watching violence and sex or feverishly pushing video game buttons completely detached from the real world. Homework? School records? They don’t care. Everything has been given to them, no requirements. They are used to the easy-lazy life.

      Gazing at this old photograph of an unknown baby girl makes me wonder and compare my life and upbringing with the way my two grandchildren live. My projection of their future is dark. My heart is aching because I feel helpless. I am deeply concerned. What will become of my two beloved boys?

      The present signs cast a dark shadow over their future. Since they have become teenagers, they are giving our family cause for more than concern. I am scared. They have bad school records. The older one skips school frequently, he has pierced ears, and spiked, colored hair. One is chumming with bad friends and getting into drugs. My heart bleeds for him and my mind desperately searches for some miraculous solutions.