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The age of aging

Time indeed is moving very fast.

I was just thirty-nine when I went to bed last night. By the time I woke up this morning I was, however, on a different decade of my personal life.

Today, it’s very clear to me that every human being, if he or she manages to remain alive, has to one day turn 40.

Yes, there is no way of cheating the relentless trot of time, the ceaseless ticking of the clock, the remorseless progress of eternity, the inexorable march of moments, the inescapable arrival of future, the unforgiving travel of tomorrow, the inevitability of history, especially since no matter how differently or complicated you make it sound, you mean the same thing: Age catches up.

And at 40, age seems to be at its fastest. It is the age you begin aging.

Health

There may be many who will convey their heart-felt birthday greetings on the day you turn 40. But just because your doctor doesn’t openly wish you, don’t think he or she isn’t celebrating. Age 40 comes riding on the possibility of referring you to tests, tests and more tests and more tests, even if you were to show up at the clinic just to hand over the letter that was wrongly delivered at your doorstep.

You: Doctor, I think the postman made an error. The address on the cover mentions your place.

Doctor: This seems pretty strange. Why don’t you undergo a plastic surgery to look like me so that the error can be rectified?

If you don’t agree for the plastic surgery, the doctor may do that operation on himself so that he begins to look like you so that he can enjoy all the tax benefits meant for you.

Ok, this is an extreme and weird example, but what the medical professionals put the over forty through is extremer. Many doctors insist on every possible test that medical science has invented to people who have turned 40. Their logic is simple: After 40 you can’t afford to take chances, more so considering the fact that with every passing day a lurking disease inside can get more malignant thereby reducing the possibility of sending the patient for more tests.

At 40 it is certainly possible to cheat death. But not the doctors.

Fashion

There are any number of style accessories these days. Even a humble ring, if they are strung/pierced in at strategically wrong places (one day they will wear them on the pancreas or have style band on the vertebras) is a bold and grand fashion statement.

At 40, though, rings on palms or eyebrows and low-waist trousers may be far off your mind. For, your trusted fashion add-on has to be the humble belt. Because at 40 delusion sets in, and every man is overcome with the strong conviction that a tightly-worn belt can somehow hide the humungous kangaroo riding in his pouch, which in generic terms is usually referred to as the belly. These are naturally the people who, in their teens, believed Venakatesh Prasad to be a fast bowler. Venky’s slower ones never worked because they usually arrived much after the batsmen had gone home and the match was over.

It seems obviously daft to even attempt to reign in all the bulk of adipose tissues (accumulated assiduously by the sheer dint of gluttony, otherwise known as overeating) through a small strip of lean leather. Don’t smirk. I know. I try this trick, and of course fail, daily.

Forty, as the learned people said, is when life begins around the abdomen.

Hairstyle

The most inescapable truth of life, along with gravity, is there are always more women/men beautiful than one’s wife/husband.

Sorry wrong truth. I was planning to say that no man in this world is ever happy with his own hairstyle. Take for instance Sharukh Khan. On the face of it, he has the most bouncy, flexible hair that seems ready for any kind of style. But what does he think of his own hairstyle? Try querying him on this, well, you won’t get a straight answer from him. Especially because you don’t know him at all.

The point is Sharukh’s hairstyle seems okay simply because we are always distracted by his acting, which is described as acting simply because it’s still not good etiquette to use a cuss word in public. Anyway, anything in comparison to his acting will always seem greatly acceptable.

But even in the best of moods you will not find your own hairstyle half attractive. This is primarily because all mirrors in this world are cynically programmed by nature to throw up disgusting images at the precise moment when you are looking at it. It is never truer than when you have crossed 40, the age when the hair on the head appears to either grey or fall while the ears suddenly develop a kinky fetish to sprout hairs out of them.

A man may dye his hair all black, spread the remaining two or three strands run all across his barren pate in an extraordinarily show of belief that people will not think him to be bald. But no technology, no gimmick, no black magic in this world can stop him from having shrubs of hair on his ears. This has to be the biggest revenge prank of nature played on human beings for creating, well take your pick, Barkha Dutt or T Rajendher.

Quite simply, there is now way a person can hide his fortiness. Unless, of course, God decides to invent baldness for ears.

Life

At 40, it’s but natural that a person is overcome with the warm fizz of nostalgia. The greatest virtue of nostalgia is it can be fully made up of beautifully imagined lies as truth too can age with the time. The centums scored in the maths paper, the wickets captured in the cricket match, the legion of secret lovers, the taming of the school bully can all brilliantly pass muster if they have no chance of verification now. At 40, anything that cannot be ascertained is good material to peddle around.

And that’s why I said I turned 40. Actually I turned 41. But you will not even begin to guess. I have a reliable belt. And my doc is a top-notch plastic surgeon with a hairstyle better than Sharukh’s.

  • Raj

    Welcome to the naughty forties! One thing you forgot to mention is that 40 is the age when girls start calling you “uncle”. So, you graduate from “anna” to uncle.

    What’s more, you suddenly realize that those born in the mid-1980s are now procreating. This means you are stepping into “thatha” territory as and when that new kid on this block starts speaking!

    Having said so, I loved the transition as one can still get away with being cheeky with the imps and sounding pompous with the elders. Suddenly, both age groups start taking you seriously though folks like us seldom take ourselves seriously!!!

  • K Balakumar

    Raj,

    I have been ‘uncled’ several summers ago itself. Hence didn’t get into that territory.

    I always find it puzzling when people say age is just a state of mind,. If it were so why have a field called geriatrics, might as well let the men who handle the state of mind, psychiatrists, to take over.

    You’re right, at 40, we’re neither old nor young, hence makes its doubly interesting or depressing, depending on your viewpoint.

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