Just the other day, I accidentally looked at some pictures of myself taken when I was five years old.
Accidentally, because I really don’t make a habit of reminding myself of those times. My sister, however, looks through the old pictures my mom keeps in shoe-boxes stacked in hidden compartment of her wardrobe.
In those pictures, I’m swimming in the baby pool on Margate beach. I remember that holiday well. It was the one when I forgot to pack my swimming shorts. So, for the entire holiday, I swam in my underwear, not that it bothered me. I must have been an extremely un-fashion conscious (or is that fashion-unconscious?) little boy.
As usual, my sister could not resist the temptation to tease me – and what better ammunition than a picture of an over-confident me all dressed up in my underpants.
It was the same holiday my dad caught what then looked to me like the fish that could have swallowed Noah. No, I am not getting my facts mixed up … that fish was, in the eyes of a five-year-old me from Krugersdorp, big enough to swallow the whole ark.
Looking at that picture now, I realise it wasn’t that big. It could at most feed a family of 14. Judging by my dad’s beaming Colgate-smile, he probably shared my sentiments back then.
Then there’s also that picture of me wearing my sister’s white boots. They were shiny-white and reached almost up to my knees. I fancied myself as a cowboy and in my imagination, I could be Ruiter in Swart’s sidekick any day. I wore those boots every morning when she was shipped off to big school. The swing in our front yard was my trusty horse – and thanks to my mom’s Kodak instamatic, I still have the evidence.
Looking through those shoeboxed memories, I remembered how time-consuming taking pictures back then was. Buying the film, storing it in the fridge, having the films developed and printed was not an instant process. And every picture cost money.
The digital age really did change all that. But there’s still a bit of magic about the pictures in the shoebox. I suppose it’s a lot like newspapers.
There’s news everywhere, but holding this paper, which will always be close to my heart, does have a kind of magic to it.