Thursday, April 02, 2015

Dear Benjamin Button

Benjamin Button, 
the man who aged backwards, 
C/o Mr F Scott Fitzgerald, 
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Dear Mr Button, Benjamin, Benjamin Button,

Kindly excuse the confusion that marks the beginning of this letter. I am never quite sure about how to address someone like you who is blessed cursed (you decide) with reverse aging.

I read somewhere that Youth is lost on the young. When we are young, we don’t appreciate it, we long to be older, and then when we are older, we long to be young.

You are fortunate to have been born 70 years old, and then to grow younger even as you grew older. Not for you the pains, aches and degeneration of one’s faculties that comes as age holds us firmly in its clutches. And yet, it wasn’t easy for you.

When you were born, your father showed you no love, treating you as a freak, and demanding rather ridiculously that you shake a rattle, dye your white hair brown and go to kindergarten. When he shopped for you, he purchased an outfit that was a mishmash of “dotted socks, pink pants, and a belted blouse with a wide white collar.

When you married, your wife, Hildegarde, insisted that you stop the manner in which you were aging. This from a woman who loved and married you because she thought you were 50, a woman who wanted an older man. When you actually turned that age, how could she forgive you for looking younger, while she is “devoured already by that eternal inertia which comes to live with each of us one day and stays with us to the end.” 

Your son, Roscoe, blustered, “You better pull up short…you better turn right around and start back the other way.” He insisted on you wearing fake eyeglasses and a beard, in a vain attempt to better resemble the father you were instead of the child you appeared to be.

As though your condition was in your control. As if you could turn back time, if it insisted on going backwards.

Forced to age normally, your family never appreciated you, but I do. I see you not as a freak, but as an unbelievable miracle of creation, much like the rest of us, only wired differently. They’d realize it too, if they’d only stop appropriating this sense of shame with reference to you.

How ironical it is that the ones who blamed you and denigrated you as a freak were the very ones who must have secretly longed to share your fate! Who would not want to put the worst behind them, and look forward to the future with excitement and anticipation? Even the way in which death overtook you was an instance of this lucky happenstance.

The rest of us may or may not see the milestones of our lives flash before our eyes in the moment before death, but we all face some degree of concern about how we will go.

Not you. For you, it was a moment of nothingness, an involuntary and steady switching off, before “it was all dark.” 

Slow fadeout.


Bliss indeed!


  1. I wouldn't mind starting out here and working my way backwards as long as all my knowledge starts with me. Lovely post.

  2. What an interesting read. I enjoyed it. Thank you!! :-)

  3. That was very touching. It made me want to read the book even more.

    Michael D'Agostino, A-Z Challenge participant :)

  4. If wishes were horses, Denise, I'd wish for that too. I wouldn't mind being a child again.

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my post, Cindy. Thank you for your time.

  6. I hope you pick up the book, Michael, you'll be blown away by the premise of the story and how it has been executed. Actually it is a short story, and it is available online too.

  7. I'm not sure I could cope with the increasing age gaps between myself and my loved ones.

    Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

  8. Ahhh, very nice letter! Benjamin would have agreed with every word!

  9. What fun! Thanks fr this excellent, witty post. Fitzgerald has never been one of my favourites but I'll read the short story now.

    Drusilla Barron

  10. Lovely post. Though I don't mind eternal youth, but relearning school and college is not for me. Very Touching. Will look out for the book :)

  11. I've never read this story, though I know about it. I don't know, it seem too weirst to me...

  12. I love the way you're writing your posts as letters to a character, what a great theme! And a great job you did on this letter especially in also letting someone know what the story was about. If you have time you should stop by and check out my B post.

  13. I get what you mean, Annalisa, it is rather weird. But it does get you thinking, what if.

  14. What a lovely compliment, Sue! We often talk about old age being a sort of second childhood. Benjamin actually got his childhood when he aged chronologically.

  15. Do read it, Drusilla, it will offer you great food for thought.

  16. I hope you get your hands on it, Ina, you might be able to find the story online somewhere. But actually, it isn't eternal youth that Benjamin had. He was born old and then grew the other way.

  17. Oh, it is weird, Sarah, but very well written all the same. Please find it and read it.

  18. Thank you, Lisa. I will chek out your post too.



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