Into the nineties

Are you not thrilled when all and sundry begin to call you Thatappa (grandfather)?

Stepping into the nineties is real fun. Most of your friends have left and probably waiting to receive you somewhere. Your friend today is the walking stick. You realise he is the best friend. He literally stands by you all the time. He stands by your bedside when you are sleeping and escorts you when you are limping in the house or garden. You cannot do without him. He gives you a sense of stability and confidence.

After your cataract operation, usually a must before you touch ninety, it is goodbye to bifocals. You have a pair of glasses for reading and another for distant vision. It is great fun fumbling for the right one at the wrong time.

Memory, which was your greatest asset during your working years, is a joker today. You remember the name of your puppy love, but forget the name of your neighbour when you meet him in the morning. You forget the name of your great-grandchild when your granddaughter brings her to you. How funny it is when memory plays hide-and-seek with you – at mid morning, you suddenly wonder whether you have taken your morning dose of pills or not.

Do you not feel funny when you pick up the phone, after many rings, and do not recognise the voice of your own grandson at the other end? Are you not thrilled when all and sundry, starting from the maidservant to the plumber, the gardener, the bus conductor and the road-side vegetable vendor, call you Thatappa (grandfather).

The greatest fun is eating. The dentures you bought about 20 years ago have become old like you and refuse to perform. You shudder to acquire a new one when you check the price – more than ten times of what you had paid earlier! Moreover, you are not sure how long you are going to use them. So you compromise.

Soft food is the answer. The vegetables cooked by modern, young home-makers (in other words food-givers) are only par boiled, in accordance with the latest trend and advice of nutrition experts. Unaware of these facts, the toothless gums fail to pulverise it. It is real fun to try and swallow the concoction.

Don’t you help your doctor come to a quick and confident diagnosis to whom, after hearing your numerous vague and varied complaints of “age-related problems”, the treatment – apart from the palliative ones – is “Take it easy and wait”. Wait for what? Nature cure or hearse?

As a young boy, when I did namaskara to elders (which was a must then but unknown to the present younger generation) they would invariably bless me, “Live a hundred years my boy.” I would be thrilled. How many mangoes I could eat in a hundred years? How many jalebis I could eat? What would I be in a hundred years – a doctor, a rich man...?

But now that I am nearing the magic figure, I feel that the elders’ wish is not a blessing but a curse. For most people old age is not a happy state. They feel they have been at the top slot of the pyramid for too long. They must vacate so others at the bottom can climb up.

Anyway, I genuinely bless my dear old friend Deccan Herald to live for a couple of hundred years and render service to its readers even if they switch over to the internet. And, I assure you, this is not a curse.

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