India — It was undeniable that I had hit middle age: I could no longer be called young, but I was yet to qualify as a senior citizen, and the energy to take on daunting tasks was intact, but overshadowed by the onslaught of age.
Standing at this crossroads of life, quietly crooning I am still youthful by Malika Pukhraj’s eternal anthem, I came to the rude realisation that the world had already labelled me as old. However, emotionally, I was oscillating between growing, somewhat grown-up, fully grown up, and coming of age. My heart did not seem to be in sync with these time-strapped norms of the world.
Muddled in middle age, my peers, too, were coming to realise that the packaging they came in was fraying at certain points, and some parts were crumbling. A friend, whose knees had given up on her, was crestfallen to learn that they needed to be replaced, but when a doctor told her that she was too young for the surgery, she merrily clung to the word ‘young’ and took up a fitness regime, which only worked to her favour.
From terrific 20s
to terrifying 50s
Reflecting on the decades that whizzed by, I have to say that my 20s were terrific as I unflinchingly took on cut-throat competition, built a career, and found the right partner, all the while dovetailing all my tasks to perfection.
In contrast, my 50s were rather terrifying, as I grappled with changes in my anatomy, learnings, and leanings. Changes are part and parcel of life, but the spirit to face them was somewhat dwindling as one raked up seniority. One had to from time to time put one’s hand on the heart and chant “all is well.”
It was only after I made a conscious effort to look at the glass half full, could I talk, walk and laugh with the same old gusto. Sure, wrinkles were lining my face, but nevertheless, I smiled through them.
A nudge from a few generous souls, who never let me feel despondent about aging, got me flexing my creaking muscles, while bending, mending, and managing the psychological and physiological rumblings within.
I started taking better care of myself than I had ever before. Shedding all inhibitions about leaving my crown grey, I felt a renewed sense of liberation as I became immune to judging minds. I continued to wear my red lipper with aplomb, and dig into my favourite dessert without an iota of guilt. I was no longer the strict mother trying to discipline my children, rather I was their friend. I have always believed that when children grow up, parents became younger because then they are all equal.
‘It’s far from over’
Hitting half-century was more momentous than my 21st birthday. I loved the extra candles on the cake for the many more years to come. I had more people attending my silver wedding anniversary than my marriage. Jiving to the evergreen number, ‘Aye meri johra zabin,’ I realised it was far from over yet.
The game of Housie, with its creative number call (‘old wine at 49’ and ‘naughty after 40’) reminds us that all stages of life have their own uniqueness.
I decided to savour this one as well, and embrace the ‘one fine day’ I had always dreamt of: the day I would practice my hobbies, live my dreams and fulfil my desires.
The lifetime achievement trophy is within reach, and as I count my blessings, it is comforting to know that I have miles to go before I sleep.
(The writer is a Chandigarh-based lawyer) For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at email@example.com HT Digital streams Ltd