Old is beautiful
“How old are you?” is a question l have to often answer. When I tell them I’m 37 years the usual exclamation is “but you don’t look so old” I feel like screaming “of course it’s not so ‘old’ to be 37!” but what’s the point? How can I convince them that ‘old’ is always 15 years more than what you are? I remember when l was a teenager, all those who were above 25, were ‘old’ and as I entered this category, only 40 could be ‘old’. Now that I’m nearing it, I look on all those who are below 60, as young!
What is this frightening world called ‘old’? Is it a chronological phenomenon; a biological one or a cardio-vascular affliction? It cannot be the first two. There are men and women who are 80 and still fighting fit while a wasted and spend 25-year-old is not an uncommon sight. There are those who have naturally jet black hair and wrinkle-free-face at 50 while 15-year-olds hurry to the beauty parlour to dye their hair or bleach their face. So, it boils down to your being as young as you feel in your heart!
What is the secret of this feeling? With due apologise to tall the theories put forward by beauticians and doctors, I’d say that you feeling young depends on those who make you feel so. Kamala Das, in her poem has expressed this so beautifully:
“Middle age is, when your children are no longer friends, but critics .............
.......You are in a dream world mother
.......You are no longer young you know.”
For a woman, it is her family which makes her young or old. A husband, who compliments her often, pampers her and makes her feel like a bride, all the time, will put a blush of youthfulness on her face. Children who, instead of treating her like a relic, vibe with her on the same wavelength, also contribute to her young looks. If you observe mothers with small children, they look worn out haggard and old. The same mothers, when the children grow up, loose that harassed look and bloom.
Anyway, why should we be afraid of growing of growing old? It’s pathetic to see women with bulging middles and frowning faces, dyeing their hair black. They neither look attractive nor young. Why this pre-occupation with black hair, I wonder. Unless one grows grey prematurely it is an elegant accessory to be worn with grace.
Why the compulsion to be secretive about one’s age? We women seem to be notorious for this. If you are 50, say so proudly. After all, you were not responsible for your being born so long ago! There are more meaningful qualities we can concentrate on, than counting the years we have lived. When you see Begum Ali Yavar Jung, do you see her wrinkles or grey hair? Does Maharani Gayatri Devi remind you of the decades behind her? Can you believe she’s past 60 as Indira Gandhi runs up the step ladder of an aircraft? (I wish she wouldn’t dye her hair so blatantly white on one side though!)
Growing old is a beautiful and gradual evolution. We should neither accelerate nor retard its progress. Let’s take it as one would savour champagne – in small sips an enjoying every moment of it!
(As I post this at the age of 67...I still feel the same!!)