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     Volume 7 Issue 42 | October 24, 2008 |

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'You brighten my day', she says . . .

Syed Badrul Ahsan

There are times when I feel old. And I feel happy about the feeling that I am old, or getting to be old. A certain sense of tranquillity in the soul, as it were, comes in even as you know that you are no more what you once used to be, that the world will not any more expect you to demonstrate the kind of drive it drove you into showing when you were young, or younger. In youth, it is forever that urge to please yourself with your talents, misplaced as they are or absent as they may be, that takes up a whole tranche of your time. And that is not all. You have that overpowering need to impress your parents or, assuming you are desperately in love with a woman and want her to be known as your wife someday, to let your prospective in-laws know that you are as good as, if not better than, they in scaling the peaks of achievement.

Illustration by Dan May 2. alumni.iadiara.edu

None of these demands nag you as you grow older, indeed as you age. Yes, you might feel a trifle sad at the fact that where once people in your neighbourhood thought of you affectionately as a brother, now there is a real possibility of someone coming up to you and taking something of pity on you -- because you are getting to be increasingly avuncular. You hair is going grey and will soon go white. Besides, much of it rather inexplicably seems to be disappearing, with the result that you realise you have a growing forehead on your hands. You then look at all the men with all that thick hair, recall the handsome look your head had once and then secretly pray that all those men with hair come down, or up, to your position one day and soon. That is the heart-breaking part of the tale of ageing. But when you really sit down, when you truly reflect on the particular charm that ageing can be, you realise with a start that you could have new possibilities opening up before you after all. You spot that exceedingly beautiful woman at a quiet dinner in some part of town, you think she is giving you the looks and then, at some point, you strike up a conversation with her. Her eyes sparkle as you speak of Churchill and quote from Wilde. When she laughs, you know that she, the same age as you are or maybe a decade older, is the new woman in your life. You waltz all the way back home, with knees beginning to consort with arthritis, trying to remember a song you heard on the frontier between teenage and mature youth. It was called Sexy Eyes. You mangle the words, you forget the tune. But does it matter?

Illustration by Becky Schultea. www.becky young.com

There are other beautiful moments that define the coming of age. You watch your teenage son run down the stairs as if he is busy trying to gain a beachhead in Normandy; your charming daughter beginning to understand the utter significance of make-up; your still pretty, maybe even prettier wife ordering you out of the room because she needs to
fix it --- and you feel a sense of satisfaction at having contributed to God's universe in your own humble way. You remember your father and then it dawns on you that you have now reached the age where he used to be when you were at university. Time flies, you tell yourself. You look at your image in the mirror, you convince yourself that for all that growing baldness, you are someone to reckon with. When you run into the beautiful woman you call Shona, she whose eyes sparkle in ethereal grandeur, you tell her you will write a story you will call 'The Bald and the Beautiful'. She laughs uproariously. It is laughter you wish would never end. You hear it as you slouch home in the pale light of the moon. It rises from the bosom of the sea.

That is what ageing is all about. You spot beauty that you never did in earlier times. And within that beauty you spot the aesthetic and all the nobler feelings that elevate your mind to the heights you never imagined were there when you were in your callow, dissolute youth. You recline on the chair or lie in bed, reading contentedly even as the rains tap against the window pane. Something of the gentleman of leisure seeps into your consciousness. You are at once part of medieval nobility in Europe, a landlord in ancient Bengal, a member of the Tsarist court in Russia. Indeed, you are all the things you imagine yourself to be. You read about Talleyrand and hear Tagore's Sravana songs as lightning streaks across the heavens. Your niece, all of sixteen years, takes a peek inside the room and asks if you would like a hot cup of coffee. You would; and she returns with a huge mug of the drink. Ah, you whisper to yourself, if only time and space would stop at that point!

'You brighten my day'. That voice belongs to your soulmate, she with the doe eyes and the stream-like voice. 'Want to go dance in the rain?” You ask her. You think of her honey skin as she says, in singsong voice, “Me Radha, you Krishna?”

Source: The Internet

You are both ageing, gracefully. You wouldn't want to be young again, surely?

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