Hitting the compound wall, a yellow ball falls into the garden as I am taking a walk with my sister-in-law.
This is followed by a gangly boy in quick succession. I run for the hedge, bend and swing, retrieve it and throw it back to him.
‘Thank you, Aunty!’ he calls out.
I quickly respond, ‘You’re welcome, uncle.’
My sister-in-law is laughing, ‘Why are you always like this! We are close to fifty, what else will he call us except aunty!’
I reply, ‘By that logic, I could argue that at this age our eyesight also starts to decline, so I couldn’t figure out whether he was a teenager or a very sharp-eyed geriatrician. gentle?’
Recently, during a meeting, my concern about aging increased further. A girl on our team wanted to do a story about older women hooking up on dating apps. When I asked her if she knew many 40- and 50-year-old women she could interview, she said, ‘No, I don’t really need older women, just a little older, like those in their thirties. in the decade.
Do you remember the jingle that came with the advertisement of Marlex pressure cookers? Remember the time when the Walkman was considered the greatest technological invention ever? Has a ‘trunk call’ been made with the operator connecting you? Saw a child with his eyes covered by his long hair and remarked that he looked like Sehgal and people wondered are you referring to Baba Sehgal who is proudly bald?
If you’re nodding off as you read this, unfortunately, like me, you’re clearly over the hill. Which is probably a good thing, otherwise you’d be huffing and puffing with some aches and pains while trying to climb at this point anyway.
‘Aging like a fine wine’ is a common saying. When the truth is, we don’t age like wine. We get old like curd, becoming acidic, smelly and definitely lumpy. It was in this hopeless state of mind that I decided to watch a show while lifting weights to stave off the inevitable loss of muscle tone. Call it impotence or the algorithm pity me, but I found a show called ‘100 Humans’.
In the first episode, people were divided into five groups on the basis of age and were given challenging tasks.
It started with jumping jacks. 60-year-olds finished last, while 20-year-olds came first. In the second task, adding chairs, the results were reversed.
The tasks roll in – memorizing grocery lists, untangling earphones, deciphering clues to get out of escape rooms. The results were clear. Aging is a U shaped curve. The group of 20 came first, but the groups of 30 and 60 came second.
It was the 40- and 50-year-olds who were at a clear disadvantage. He didn’t have the mitochondria-cracking power of youth nor the wisdom that comes with experience.
This was reiterated in another study by Maastricht University researcher Bert Van Landeghem where he said, ‘When you look at a 65-year-old and a 25-year-old they have about the same level of happiness, but a 65-year-old is more likely to be a 25-year-old. Don’t want to live life, their life aspirations have changed.
In all of my interviews, too, the most helpful reflections have come from the oldest guests on my show.
Waheeda Rehman’s perspective on maintaining female friendships with the equally great Helen and Asha Parekh and taking scuba diving off her bucket list at the age of 81. Ruskin Bond’s rigorous 87-year writing schedule and his continuing interest in people and nature. Both these signs have something in common – a curiosity about the world around them and an acceptance of the changes that life and age bring along.
My grandmother too had her own recipe for growing up with grace. She continued crocheting and knitting into her eighties. She’d take her samples on beauty salon visits and return thrilled with orders for pouches and laptop sleeves.
After he passed away, my mother sent me a suitcase with my things. I opened it and it lay at my feet, an explosion of colour. I remember choosing a yellow fleece, a shade similar to a ripe mango. The way he did it smelled of mothballs too. Was it because she was always surrounded by such small and large bags, or do all preservative auxiliaries, whether for people or for things like mothballs and drugs, have the same sickly-sweet smell?
Muscle memory took over. I slid over the stitches just as he had taught me, lost in the rhythm of my hands. Some people inherit a silver platter, I inherited a bag full of memories and a solid reminder of their prescription for longevity, busy hands lead to a steady mind.
Circling the garden once again, admiring the beehive on a weighty branch and the fruitful mulberry tree above the gate, I am touched by Kafka’s words, ‘Whoever has the ability to see beauty Yes, he never gets old.’
If I’m lucky, I’ll continue to see beauty in the world until this auntie reaches an age where bladders work overtime and bowels mobilize to go on strike on alternate days. And thanks to the fading vision, maybe even in the mirror.
end of article