Act your age

Act your age

“You are already fifteen years old, going on sixteen. Be more responsible. Act your age. Your teacher e-mails me saying you are very poor in studies and that you do not submit home assignments before the deadline. You are not a child any more. Act your age.”

My neighbour went on and on, shouting at her son at the top of her voice. Whenever she repeated the phrase ‘act your age,’ it felt like a slap on my face. I looked into the mirror that hung in front of me. Am I ‘acting’ my age? In a short answer, ‘No!’, screamed my jet black hair.

I already had four grandchildren yet I was hopelessly trying to cover up my grey hair. Enlightenment dawned suddenly, after overhearing the choice words the mother had for her child, and I decided to act my age. 

Hair dye bottle and other paraphernalia were handed over to the maid who was just two grandchildren old. The transition from jet black to grey was not smooth and had its awkward moments. Grey was growing millimetre by millimetre from the roots easing out the jet black gradually, making me look funny. Thankfully, the process ended and I shone with a rich silvery crown on my head.

There were delectable moments when the pharmacist gave a discount on medicines unasked. In an overcrowded public transport, I was respectfully offered a seat. During the elections, I  was led to the booth and got to jump the serpentine queue. The rosy days, however, didn’t last long. 

Our gardener who had called me aunty all along suddenly changed his opinion and called me ‘ajji’ (grandmother), prompting the whole neighbourhood to call me ‘ajji; much to my chagrin.

As I was rolling in self-pity, the phone rang. It was the ninety-five-year-old aunty who was my mother’s schoolmate. Stone-deaf she was now shouting into the phone. “Hudugi (young girl)! How are you? Have you forgotten this old woman?” She went on and on punctuating each sentence with ‘hudugi’. My heart started singing.

As they say, even darkest of clouds have silver lining.