So I am at this book launch in an up market bookstore in Delhi. Considering most other invitees are young, I opt for trousers and a red top. The pretence convinces nobody. I look like a red dinosaur. Just when I focus on the adage, ‘Live your life, forget your age,’ and try to ignore the fact that I belong to a handful of ‘above forty’ present in the room, Rickie, a friend remarks, “Did you notice the average age of this gathering?”
Grrr…why did he have to rub it in?
Age is a matter of mind, they say. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Bah! Given a chance, I wouldn’t move beyond thirty. Who wants wisdom if it comes with increasing weight and diminishing eye sight? I’d rather be Alia Bhatt – confused and impulsive than Barkha Dutt – opinionated and wise. In a world where Housefull is a hit, and Yo Yo is a youth icon, wisdom is an unwanted entity anyway. Look, what we did to wise old MMS.
Needless to say, I am not a fan of the aging malarkey. It’s not that I’m vain or I miss my youthful looks, heavens no. I have embraced the fine lines and grey hair, but it’s about the other things that come marinated with age. Like, I walk towards the kitchen to get a glass of water, but return with a glass of juice. Oftentimes I open the refrigerator and wonder why I opened it in the first place!
The problem compounds if you are a writer and a social media addict. Your mind is fogged with a million thoughts that come and go like the monsoon clouds. Whoever disagrees never faced the embarrassment of, “What was his name damit?” The proper nouns go missing like a story in a Sajid Khan movie.
That said, forgetting names is a great way to destroy friendship. Forgetting the kid’s name is equally effective. As is forgetting that you met the person before.
Optimists say that our brain dismisses negative memories and retains the positive ones as we get older. For all I know, or care, ‘good-old-days’ could well be nothing but a farce created by those who forgot all about them. Then they also say that the mature don’t agonize over losing bets. And that they are less likely to try to redeem their loss by taking a bigger risk. Big deal! I am not into betting anyway.
And all the talk about the elderly being wise and better at managing emotions is baloney. Shouldn’t wisdom be a natural outcome of surviving stupidity? Why should it come along with diminishing eyesight?
This year, the ophthalmologist declared I needed spectacles for reading.
“But I can see. Except that I struggle to read the menu card in a restaurant.”
“Mam, that is because most people need reading glasses after forty.”
“No,” I persisted. “That is because the restaurants are dimly lit.”
He smiled and gave a card. “Please read this.”
Was it a donkey or a monkey? I couldn’t read. Time was when I won a first prize in the ‘needle and thread’ race.
“Can’t you increase the font size?”
He shook his head and smiled.
It hurt. The way it hurt when Sharapova refused to recognize Sachin.
If you are a woman, it’s all good till forty. Then you are on a slippery slope. The estrogen level begins to act like sensex on a day of volatile trading. The hormonal swings leave you as devastated as Tornado Alley in the United States. Your face begins to expand like a bhatura in hot oil. You can, of course find solace in the fact that Salman has a double chin.
If any, the good news is that with advancing age, the anxiety levels have settled for the better. I have negotiated pain, lived through loss, emerged stronger after illness and survived periods of uncertainty. I know things do change. And time does heal.
But again, what was I saying? Ah, forgetfulness. Truly. So much for aging.