On turning sixty

On turning sixty

The first signs of aging is a single strand of grey hair that you notice when standing in front of a mirror, shaving razor in hand. The process completes a full cycle when with a wave of the comb the last black strand of your once raven black hair takes leave leaving a silvery mane that would have done a steed proud but leaves you concerned quite a wee bit.

Of course if you are the dyeing kind you could use chemicals to maintain a youthful look and deceive the rest of the world. But your hopes of remaining a Markandeya are quickly dashed when the first wrinkles begin to appear on your face.

I for one refused to dye and whenever queried by friends shocked at the shock of white hair on my pate would assuage their concern by passing it off as a case of premature greying. Having turned sixty recently I had to unfortunately shed all pretences of belonging to the youth brigade and join the silvers in the land who had long left their halcyon days behind. An old acquaintance of mine whom I encountered on a busy thoroughfare the other day gave me a onceover and said, 'Don't tell me you are 60. I can't believe it.'

It was like a shot of adrenaline coursing through my veins and my sagging morale soared like a kite in the sky. My joy was shortlived for the killjoy's next volley flattened me. 'I was about to say that you look closer to 70.' he said with a smirk.

My face fell and in a split second I aged by around ten years. Yet I took the jibe in my stride and ramrod straight (lest he add insult to injury by saying that I had also developed a hunchback) took to my heels as if a pack of hounds were on my trail.  Such indeed are the travails of the old guard in a universe where the youth are in a majority.

However there are a few benefits too and with the government having reduced the age for being classified as a senior citizen from 65 to 60 for tax purposes you might well end up with a few extra pennies in your pocket. But all this is poor consolation for creaking joints and wobbling kneecaps and -you also have to endure the mortification of being called ‘ajja’ or ‘ajji’ or ‘daadu’ or ‘daadi’ or ‘taataa’ or ‘paati’ when till the other day you were addressed respectfully as uncle or aunty.

My colleagues at the bank where I have worked myself to the bone for nearly four decades often quiz me on my post-retirement plans. Being a wordsmith of no major distinction one of them suggests that I could pen a novel as if that was just as facile as darting off to the nearby shop and buying a bar of soap.

In today's world you are not allowed to retire in toto for if you are still on your feet you are expected to bring home the bacon that too in abundance for in most cases your pension might just be sufficient for one square meal a day and not two. Well there will come a time when you can hang up your boots for good. But then you won't be around to realist it, do you get my point.

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