Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Yes, women lie about their age all the time. At 12, I told everyone I was 16 and at 16, I leapfrogged two years ahead because I was in such a hurry to grow up and get there. And now that I am here, I kind of like the view. So I fib downward. Mainly to match the IQ of the men I meet.

One way to reverse ageing — reversing, by the way, means staying in the same spot, such being the breakneck speed of incoming birthdays — is to pick a literary character and stay with it, like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland or any minor persona in a Jane Austen.

I bring this wide-eyed wondrous look to most things domestic. I can stare at a dish being cooked umpteen times, repeat recipes in my sleep, tune into all the cookery shows and still not place a single pot on fire. Only once was I tempted to try, when a chef pal in a moment of true love imparted her ‘secret ingredient’ to me. On gentle summer nights, the secret ingredient comes back to me. Now if only I can meet someone who knows the rest of the recipe!

While lying about age, it is important to rearrange earlier events in a jiffy. You don’t want to be tripped up by actual year of graduation or marriage. As you affect smooth laughter and a smoother brow, do the math. While the world moves forward, you are constantly reversing.

Rule number one: we were all child brides. But naturally. And we got double promotions at school and college, which means we finished the entire syllabus in half the time it took others.

Pepper your conversation with ‘compliments’ from strangers about your daughter looking like your sister, taking care that your audience is intelligent enough to decipher that it is you who retained your looks and not your daughter who matured before time. Of course, once in a while, depending on how inattentive a particular audience is, you can even pass off your daughter as your mom. This works better in candlelight and is most effective during power cuts.

Never groan about joint pains or indigestion. This was cute only when you were seriously young. Other topics to avoid: retirement plans, real estate investments, cars with ample leg-room and the ‘good old days’. Talk instead about body piercing and out-drinking your boss.

Another anti-ageing measure is simplicity. Simple, simplistic, simpletons, all are welcome. Simple is sweet and apparently men feel a surge of protectiveness at a creature so clueless, so perennially juvenile. Though the babyish brigade runs the risk of being called dumb blondes (desi dyed), they get to giggle a lot. So pluck your eyebrows for that permanently puzzled look, pout, lisp a bit and you are in business, Behenji Button. We are former teenagers, after all!

Preserving our bloom
Ageists pooh-pooh the compulsive colouring of hair, the teen-complex clothes, the ring hanging from a middle-aged nostril. But then they are all on the other side of the age line, what we call the right side. Age gracefully, they are wont to say, when what they mean is get lost, geriatrics. A 70-plus lady in the US has tattooed phalluses on her bald scalp, so there!

Long ago, women lathered arsenic on their face to preserve youth and today we have clinics devoted exclusively to preserving our ‘bloom’. Ads tell us how to detonate the fine lines around the eyes and ensure a husband’s ‘love’ by lasering away the stretchmarks we got by carrying his children in the first place!

But before I botox my butt, I want to know how many years must I subtract from my life? If I am to go back in time, when and where should I stop? At which age, at which expression? I mean if it is Brad Pitt promised in marriage to me, I could go up to 30, right? If it is Justin Bieber I get to date, please put me in a pram and plug my ears.
It is a fulltime job to be a lean, mean party machine. They say 40 is the new 30. So a decade is already off you courtesy such cutesy new-age lingo. Five years you can chop off by being vague about birth year, and — bingo! — another five evaporate by mutual consent whereby you give your rival five years off too.

To maintain the myth of your recentness, indiscriminately invest in every over-the-counter item that promises to erase crow’s feet, creases and crinkles. Then liposuction thighs down to a bare minimum required to carry your torso around and iron forehead into a blissful blank. Though you can no longer wrinkle nose, frown or express happiness, you will fit in well at funerals.

So there you are, a woman of uncertain vintage with what they call a “well-maintained” figure, looking “good for your age.” Now hang a board outside your house that says: “Don’t ask age, she will bite.” And get your dentures from a reputed firm.
It is my love of kaftans and humming of Deep Purple that date me. When I nag the kids about not reading all the Richmal Cromptons I bring, they say, “Mom, you picked them up for yourself.” Call me prehistoric, but why must I give up Karen Carpenter on the off chance that I may grow to like Miley Cyrus?

Ah, the furtive pleasures of ageing frankly! I can be forgetful, eccentric, moody and say boo. Being hip to me means keeping my hip, however 70-mm it is, as it is. And all my years won’t catch up with me in  a single moment like they did that Shangri La dame.
So mirror, mirror on the wall, do me a favour — shut up!

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