'Youth is a boon while ageing is a bane’; you may ask who made this profound or rather provocative statement. It is me. Yes, I am ready to say this and also stand by it because I am aged now. There are patronizingly cheering statements like ‘you are as old as you think’ and ‘age is for the body not for the mind’, ‘old is gold’, etc. Fine, these are just small sops for a big loss which is in progress.
Let me explain why I made that statement and in real life also earned the ire of many an older person. The first casualty is your appearance. The devastation of age on ‘once beautiful lady or handsome lad’ is well known. It is a fact, if the ageing process isn’t graceful, it invariably results in gaunt looks; obesity in the middle, sagging of face muscles, loss of hair to give simple examples.
The second is the outlook. It invariably takes a beating with ageing. It is difficult for an elderly one to relate anything done by the younger ones. The ageing drives them to pass some cryptic, disparaging or wry remarks on the youngsters’ views, talk or dress. The battle lines are drawn instantly. It is not very difficult to read the mind of the young when such remarks surface. That is because with ageing we think we know better than the young that need not be always true.
The next is the way one dresses. Most of the elderly people thinks (or forced to think) that they should be dressed in a simple manner. The colors have to be sober or colorless like the rest of their lives. If they try something different it definitely looks weird and receives dirty sniggers.
Let us come to food. Whether wisdom comes with ageing or not, surely sugar, hypertension, arthritis and absentmindedness are bound to come; for some all, and for those little blessed a few. Spectacles and difficulty in reading and writing are inevitable. I come across persons for whom the insomnia sets in and for some it would be terribly disturbed sleep.
When one becomes aged, he/she should necessarily turn philosophical (especially in India) and compulsively religious. The first quality comes because of the neglect they face and the second due to fear of walking towards the end of life.
I remember one incident which makes me absolutely come to the conclusion that ageing is nothing but a curse. Once I went on a holiday with a young friend of mine who was in his twenties and me in my sixties. Surprising? Yes, the age did not come between the camaraderie. We were visiting a tranquil but naturally rich island with many small hillocks and plains. They were renting bikes to those who wanted to roam around. My young friend hired one and asked me to sit in the pillion and started driving. He drove through the highs and lows like crazy laughing and enjoying while I was terrified when he started sliding down on a steep slope. I almost felt dead of the fear of tumbling down dead or with some broken limbs. Sensing my fear the guy stopped the vehicle. Once got down, I chided him but even before that he started laughing uncontrollably. I could definitely feel a youngster in my place would have joined him in the laughter.
Imagine the life and situations when young and when you turn old? The bumps and slopes in the early stages of one’s life do not threaten but convert them into challenges. The same things when he/she turns old throw fear in the mind. I myself feel now how many tough and testing situations I have passed through in my life during my young age with a sense of assurance.
The last and the final assault is the loneliness. None will be interested in conversing with an old soul unless he/she is exceptional in something. For the ordinary silence is the best solution. Even with their own sons and daughters they become alienated. Old age homes or living alone is not just because the children abandon them; it is also because the age and its vagaries separate them and make them isolated.
The aged have to live in the memories of the past. Why one should, if the present is beautiful?