Recently on a website a group photo showed up, which showed yours truly of a quarter of century ago. The photo was blurry, still I could recognize long-forgotten faces.
I was the emaciated, shabby-looking boy standing at one edge of the group next to my then best friend. There were some other classmates, both close and not so close, and a few teachers as well. All looked both familiar and strange, the kind of strange familiarity one encounters when going back in time.
In a flash the Dark Age of my life came back, that slice of space-time continuum which I would rather relegate to the oblivion of a black hole, preferably a big one. Let's just say there was nothing remotely happy about it, when one cold night I stood on a hill looking down at all the cozy lights in the valley below, acutely aware that there was no place for me anywhere within sight and beyond.
Naturally I was not pleased when seeing that old photo, which brought back unwelcome memories. Then I confronted myself with the question whether deep down I was a coward. Pleasant of not, that period was a part of my life, even a formative one I might add. If at the back of my soul there's always this faint note of sadness the way the relic radiation is ever present in the cosmos, it's largely because of those years. If I grew up a kind man instead of an insensitive egoist, those years were partly responsible too. I realized I could not reject something that had put its print inside me so deep it had become part of me.
At least now I can look at that old photo not with aversion, but with a reluctant appreciation of my appalling state of want in those long gone days.