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      Volume 12 |Issue 05| February 01, 2013 |


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Remember as You Pass Me By


It is generally feared (by men) that on average women live at least five years longer than men particularly in the industrialised world. The gap could be wider in areas more bucolic. This is based on actual studies by men. Strange that this should be a topic for research in the developed world when there are so many other issues that affect human habitation more on this planet that is going in circles out of sheer confusion. It is widely understood that the behuda project was funded by rich men who saw before their own eyes the sad plight of their departed fellow beings who were unable to enjoy a late bachelorhood; the widows of those expired souls had the last laugh that began even before the funeral was over and that echoed for five years or more.

Major reasons for a lower lifespan among men include a more reckless lifestyle, as a result of which higher cardiovascular diseases, and the disadvantageous organic composition typical of the jovially described 'worse half'. No prizes for guessing which one cause is directly attributable to women. One Sardarjee summed up female longevity all very well: "Arey Bhai, women don't have a wife".

Some argue that another reason for women's longevity is their lack of ageing. As proof of the above theory suffice it is to mention that born in March 1959, our cutie pie, sweetie soup Barbie, although 53 now, looks oh so young!

Although you may not feel any older as you hurdle successively over the age barriers because, they say, 'birthdays are good for health', you are reminded of your destined journey by the occasional kind attitude of people around you, not necessarily at home, but even in public places. Seats are vacated, heads are tipped, and smiles greet you, as you wonder alone why people are doing what you have been doing all your life. Well, it appears the time has come for you to be repaid. There will also be the odd 'salaam' from strangers in the street who will have noticed the silver streaks that glorify your long existence, unless of course you are coming from the salon grinning silly with a pitch black top.

The reverse also does not escape your experienced gaze. You get irritated when teenagers puff away almost on your face, young men and women do not budge an inch to let you pass on the pavement, and younger people known to you do not get up to receive you as you enter a room.

At that age there are new additions to your constant companion, your bag, now stuffed with a pair of spare spectacles, dentures, medication, toothpicks, cotton buds, wet tissue…

Your memory fails you, almost to embarrassment. But you manage to lead what you reckon is a normal life. Asked someone of his octogenarian friend, how romantic it was of him to call his wife of 55 years 'darling', 'sweetheart', and 'honeybun'. Replied the 82-year old, “What else can I do? I am trying to remember her name for the last two years.”

Man or woman, while many, okay most, of us are worried to death (pun not intended) of approaching, meeting, and crossing such dreaded landmarks, there are several compensations, call them rewards if you will, of reaching any age ten years more than your present, and going beyond at the speed of light!

As has been said by a blogger that as you age, 'kidnappers are not interested in you' unless they are asking as ransom the hand of your daughter, 'in a hostage situation you are likely to be released first' unless unfortunately there is someone sicker than you, 'no one expects you to run' even if honeybun is chasing you with a broom, and most insultingly 'people call you at 9pm and ask, "Did I wake you up?" '

The purpose of making joyful the act of the inevitable, that is growing older, is to remind younger people that where the young of today are today, the elderly were once upon a time, and where the elderly are now, so at one time the young of today will be. That was derived from an epitaph engraved in stone that I spotted as a child at the Barisal graveyard: Remember as you pass me by, where you are now so once was I, and where I am now, so you must be.

It does not hurt the young to be nice to the elderly because the young will hopefully outlive youth and expect similar kind heartedness from those younger to them a few years from now. Time does fly.

Let the young of today make a note that the next time they pass by an elderly person or are in the company of one, they will express respect towards their experience, show gratefulness for their collective contribution to Mother Earth, and voice their awe for being the vital link between the past and the future, not in as many words, but by simply being nice(r). Let them take the elderly by surprise, pleasantly.


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