Monthly Archives: March 2011

When do We Turn Old?


Warning: Those who are worried about ageing must not read this.

A sexagenarian mourned: My cousin died today morning. He was only 77.

An octogenarian complained plaintively: Doctor, my skin is all wrinkled. What is wrong with me?

The same person once got irritated when a friend of hers was referred to as ‘that old guy’. She interfered, “Old guy? We were classmates at school!”

On the other hand:

A little boy from America unsettled his grandfather back in India with his words over phone: O grandpa, are you still alive?!

I am not cracking jokes. These are words of my own relatives.

I once asked my ninth graders, “When do you think old age sets in?” They chorused at once, “After thirty.” I was crestfallen. [Alas! Chanting Shelley’s words (If winter comes can spring be far behind) was to no effect as there is no spring to come after this long winter.] Longing for some assurance I asked, “Will you call me ‘old’?” They managed to answer, “No.” Women, whether young or not very young, are very shrewd in such matters.

The fair sex are sensitive about the four A’s –Age, Appearance, Attires, Accessories.No woman would wholeheartedly tolerate being dissuaded from purchasing her favourite attire/accessory if that connotes that she is too old or fat for that. The person who puts forward the suggestion would be ‘D’graded‘ by her in Women’s Psychology’. If that woman is me I would deny both the allegations. My daily workouts are supposed to keep me healthy, young and slim and I firmly believe they do work.

I once again travelled down the memory lane to re-discover my first encounters with the mysterious reality called Time. While at primary school the senior girls seemed too big. In my teenage, the college students were the grown-ups. In those days I too thought people in their thirties were in their old age. But when I touched that mark I blissfully fathomed out something:

Old age is a mirage, a myth.

We wait for weekends; we long for the pay days; we look forward for vacations, festivals and birthdays; and we embrace them ignorant of the cost we have to pay – one more week/month/year from our lives. Surprisingly, of late, time has accelerated. The speed at which the New Years pay their visit startles me. Certainly I am not worried because I know such things happen due to ‘Global Warming’ which is beyond my control. Sounds incredible? Dear contemporaries, you need to be well-versed in the art of escapism to soothe yourselves with such excuses.

When will old age visit me? One fine morning I will have to receive and even accommodate that unwelcome guest. That morning is far away, as I am not OLD young still! That is the fancy which keeps me on the move (where to?)!

Gradually Sylvia Plath’s Mirror (http://www.vmlinux.org/ilse/lit/plath.htm )is becoming crystal clear to me. I wonder how I would have taken it, had I read it in my teenage. I hope in the new edition of Literature Reader the CBSE has made a more sensible selection of works giving something that teenagers could digest.

Hey, cheer up! Let me wind up on an optimistic note. Attention 30+ women (and men too?) out there! Instead of letting Plath’s terrible fish scare us, next time when it jumps out of our mirrors, let’s hook it and make a delicious fry of it! And let us age gracefully!

An Elegy


 (On the untimely demise of a young colleague)

It’s a journey together
There is happiness, also fights,
Shocks, complaints, tears,
Appreciations, criticisms –
All part of the game.

On the way some diverged
A few took a short break
Some faces are seen again
Some not; some forgotten,
But present somewhere.

Yesterday one promised
To return soon.
We hoped so, she too.
Today they say she won’t,
She could not,
Her role is over, for good.

What were her dreams,
Her thoughts about tomorrow?
Was she aware there was no tomorrow?

So who is rank now?
It might be he or she or you
Anyone other than me
That’s what I think,
He thinks,
She thinks,
You and they think.

I feel I am eternal
Because I have never died.
Always someone else died
Though at times it had come close.

With the suspense maintained
HE makes us play
Our puppet-roles sincerely
In the true sportsman spirit.

N  i n  c  o  m  p  o  o  p  s  !