To dye or not to dye

There is dignity in getting old with grey and grace.

Since a few years my near and dear ones are trying to impress on me the advantages of dyeing my hair. They are very eager to make me join their club.

‘Why do you want to look ten years older when you can look ten years younger? Why should you tolerate being called ‘Ajji’, when you could be called ‘Aunty’? This is the usual query I come across. Some who are very close take the liberty of scolding me for spoiling the beauty of a group photo simply on account of my grey hair. Some look at me with pity, while others accuse me of being lazy  at not trying to improve my appearance. 

I question myself many a time, ‘Can the inevitable process of ageing can be stopped?’ ‘Can you go against nature? Won’t the wrinkles, receding hair line and other factors give away our true age? Is there any advantage in concealing our age’?

There are various prerogatives one can enjoy being senior citizens, both at home and abroad.  I have experienced situations where it really feels good to be a senior citizen. The look of concern and care my grey hair evokes in people, especially in the youth, is very reassuring. In recent days when rudeness, lack of concern, neglect of the elderly, and some cases even cruelty is so common everywhere, my experience of the opposite is a welcome change, indeed very comforting! Why not bask in this warm sunshine!

Co-passengers, travel agents, even strangers in public places show me respect. Autorickshawallas are generally considerate and helpful. Touched and grateful when I thank them, they philosophically say, ‘Won’t we also become old one day?’ When I enjoy all these benefits, my grey hair itself is my most obvious age certificate. There is no need for a guilty glance at other fellow beings in the common queue as I avail the concessions due to elderly citizens.

I appreciate the concern of my friends and relatives. I am sure my children would have liked to see their Mom young and smart, but they remain mum on this matter. Not so with my young grandchildren. Gazing at my grey hair, they ask me, ‘How old are you, Pati?’ In their count, anything above twenty or thirty is beyond their reach. ‘Oh!’ they exclaim. Unaware of the gravity of the next question, they ask innocently, ‘If you are so old, when are you going to die?’

My granddaughter in the US casually asked one of the social workers in her school, an elderly lady in her 80’s, “My grandmother is also old. She doesn’t work. You too are old. Why is it that you work?’ The lady came to school the next day with her hair dyed in a dazzling red hue! Sometimes of course my grandchildren too get upset when someone calls me ‘Ajji’. Pati or grandmother is alright for them, but not Ajji.

I hope these reactions will not make me waver in my decision that there is dignity in getting old with grey and grace. In fact, I have become quite a trend setter and many others are beginning to follow in my footsteps!

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