JournalismPakistan.com October 1, 2014
I am going to be 66. Clickety click. Soon. Soon enough. Far too soon. Sooner than you think. All too soon. Round the corner, rushing at me like a train in a James Bond movie, crushing youth into strawberry jam, that’s it brother, we are going downhill from here.
Today is international old people’s day. Don’t know what it means but okay you want to give us a day, knock yourselves out. Let me tell you growing old isn’t for sissies and I didn’t say that first.
And I have been thinking where’s the hurry, back off a bit and postpone it by a year. I like the sound of 65, there is something young and vigorous about it. At this age there is still hope, you could get another job, have a kid (only kidding) go hiking without carting your daily medicines with you and not complain about a old college day injury that throbs when the weather is cold.
Sixty six has this watershed feel about it, like you have been shoved into another dimension and there is no going back. It means, this is it, Clyde, better hit the road, you’ll never be a colt again, this is where when people tell you that you are only as young as you feel, what is age but something in the mind, they are actually visibly sorry for you and only trying not to hurt your feelings.
Past the mid sixties opens the floodgates on unsolicited advice. People telling you to slow down, ease up, stop playing squash, be careful with the sugar and the salt and not too many late nights, cut the smoking, you are not getting any younger, you are not young anymore, like it was an indictment.
An age where you are supposed to suddenly stop indulging yourself in fun things because you are 66, you know, it doesn’t look nice, act your age.
What is of most concern to me in this bleak and depressing state is this inclination in people to expect a celebration, a party, some sort of public recognition that you are whizzing past this milestone. Why would you want the world to know your cake is getting squishy? Why on earth would you want to set your depression to music? It is a sobering thought that if I was a game of tombola I would be way past half way house. It is also a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age he had been dead for 17 years.
And while on the subject of sobriety, this is the age when men especially begin to recall their past, dredging it up like an old shoe from the bottom of the lake. An age when you begin to preface your speech with ‘In my time’ and ‘When I was’ and ‘Way back when.’ Since I loathe nostalgia I see little reason to share this thoroughly unmomentous occasion with anyone.
Seriously, though, it is only my body that is hitting 66. I am only 22. And if we can postpone marriages, business deals and cricket matches I see a lot of precedent on postponing birthdays, especially these epoch making ones.
You could take out a public notice, all nice and legal, like those people who are changing their names. I, Robbie Nath Jha hereby declare that henceforth I shall be rechristianed Babblu Bhola Jha hear ye, hear ye.
I could cheerfully do the same. This is to inform you that I have decided to delay my 66th birthday by a year. Consequently you are advised to continue responding to me for all intents and purposes as a 65er until further notice.
This sort of deferred thing could catch on. Wedding anniversaries could go the same way. Let’s skip the silver, sweetheart and go straight for gold.
After all, what’s a year between friends.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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