Grandmother and I, we all fall like leaves

(written by Cu)


When I did the sketch for this drawing, my idea was solely to show my love of the nature. I enjoy watching green leaves quivering in the light breeze, contemplating textures of different tree barks, and stepping on dry crispy leaves under the sun. Sometimes, I have the feeling that it would be nice to suddenly take roots in the ground, to let arms turn into branches and to whistle to the moon while trying to reach the gleaming stars. That’s why I wanted to draw a girl fusing with a tree, and they, together as one, would be forgotten in a thick forest, where they could hear nothing but the rustle of thousand leaves.

However, I talked to my grandma while drawing, and heard that another friend of her had died. That was when I decided to add a falling leave at the foreground.

Thanks to my trip back to my country last summer, I have noticed how my friends have changed. After two years apart, I was amazed how tall they had become and how differently they behaved. It was as if the entire Earth continued to turn around its own axis while I was the only one standing still. Any change in my friends is a good way for them to explore themselves and to find their own way of dealing with the world they live in, yet I feel lonely seeing them growing up one after another.

My grandma probably has the same feeling. She must have felt lonely too, seeing her friends, her siblings and cousins leaving this world one after another. The race began ten years ago, but she then would only hear of such bad news once in a few months. The frequency has now turned into once every two weeks.

I imagine that we are in the same phase of life. We both see changes and both feel lonely, but her uncertainty is far more considerable than mine. I’m worried about growing up; her mind seems to be occupied with the border of death and life. I see one leaf falling; she sees thousands.


Grandma's hands

A recent photo I took of my grandma’s hands

I am certainly not good at observing, especially when it comes to observing people. Back when I was at secondary school, I never noticed when other students wore jeans instead of uniform trousers, or when the girl sitting next to me had her hair cut. To tell the truth, I was quite ignorant and have only been an observer since I decided to take drawing seriously. As I wanted to draw all the things and people around me, I had to know how they looked like. It was surprisingly interesting to find out how one flower differed from another and how my hands had more callosities than those of my friends (because of biking).

Recently, I’ve hung around with my parents and grandparents more often because our relationship has gotten much better (guess how stubborn I was during the age of puberty!). I have the chance to observe them more carefully than I ever did before, only to discover that my grandma’s hair has turned completely white, while the lines on my mom’s forehead have doubled.

As I look at myself in the mirror and at my friends, I can see that our faces look longer and our eyes seem to get smaller in proportion to our heads. Our shoulders grow wilder, but the shoe size stops changing. For us whose last teenage year is yet to come, they call this period of life “growing up”; but for my parents and grandparents, it is called “growing old”.

Yet I wonder if growing up differs from growing old, or if having celebrated one more birthday means you’ve grown up a little more.


I love looking at old people, at their wrinkles and their sunken but deep eyes. These traits make them look sad and wise. I have the feeling that these people have developed a special ability of speaking words only with their eyes. Sometimes, when those eyes gleam and you look straight into that vacant look, you can see an entire new world hidden in their soul after decades of experience and hard work.

As a child, I was always curious of what people would call “adulthood”. Now, as a teenager, I’m more curious of the world hidden behind old people’s eyes. How does it feel like to become old? Do you view the world and all its flaws from a different angle when you’re old? What of the world do you see when you take off your glasses against long-sightedness?

Or rather, at that age, do you still see with your eyes, or do you feel?



6 thoughts on “Grandmother and I, we all fall like leaves

  1. Very thoughtful and well written piece. I especially like your observation that drawing has made you more observant, enabling you to see things that you never noticed before. Photography can be like that as well. You raised the question of whether older people see things differently than when they were young. Often they do, but I would suggest only if their minds are open to change and allow them to “see.”


    1. Taking photos sure helps me a lot with discovering many small but interesting details that I can’t notice with only one glance. I love lying in bed, reviewing all the photos I’ve taken during the day time and zooming in to see people and objects in the background. I never know what I can discover 😉
      Furthermore, when I have to try my best to take a good photo, I seem to pay more attention to the relationship between colours, light and shadow, heights and places of objects. Thanks to this activity, the world around me suddenly appears much livelier.

      About old people: My grandparents can be quite stubborn at times. Just like you said, I don’t think they can see very well when they don’t want to take others’ opinions in to consideration. Still, I find it funny when they’re stubborn. It’s as if they turned into a child all of a sudden.


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