Whoever said turning 50 was a piece of cake, has no idea what they are talking about. It takes several kilos of the cake (or pie or pastry), across numerous years, to help turn you into the obese, grey haired, jaded, worn-out, unrecognisable person. And it isn’t a one day phenomenon, you know like when you wake up one bright summer morning and realise- gosh- I am never going to be 40 again! It is a notoriously slow process, that begins when you are born and slowly creeps up on you to the inevitable and irreversible day.
So a few months ago I turned 50. And COVID happened. Haven’t quite figured out which is the bigger disaster? Or maybe it is Trump. Tough times, difficult choices. Like all self-respecting middle class people, I had to celebrate that occasion, marking the end of my prime youth and beginning of my expected sedentary life. If people can celebrate breakups, I can celebrate ageing, so nothing really wrong there. So I did, with pomp and show, sailing through the middle east, and sharing a handful better selfies with the world in general.
Nothing drastic has happened since, world is still the same, mornings are as bad as ever, save for a few tell-tale signs that are an eye opener. Yes, they remind every day, you are old dear, and the quicker you realise and accept it, the better. Thought of sharing the learnings – so if you intend to forget your age- bingo! I will not let you.
Sign no 1 : You find workout videos very inspiring, especially the ones that say – for mature people (or older adults or however you term yourself like How to feel 25 at 50). You try to prove (more to yourself ) you are better than the lady in the video who does all these twists and turns with unbelievable ease, but they did not tell you about the invisible wall between your foot and your hands and bend as hard as you will, you cannot reach your foot, the only twist that happens is the one in the back that makes Combiflam a must. Finally to save your dignity, you mumble- all doctored and fake videos!
Sign no 2 : You fundamentally stop caring about the sign no 1, what matters is the cake that looks so yum, the buttery naan, and the all so yummy food we ended up cooking during all these lockdown months inspired by the plethora of mouth-watering recipes that have flooded the internet. The increased inches on your anterior that makes it impossible to look down and see your balance body parts and the post lunch lethargy leading to lay-downs are just side effects. So what if the jeans needs to be loosened or the belly button peeks out from between the shirt buttons. Looking good is passé, feeling good is what matters, The Divine Revelation. And despite that- people will tell you – How nice! Beautiful pic! (And you look so good “for your age” ) As soon as you post that selfie with wrinkly double chin and fizzy hair (after 99 retries) on social media. Bang! All the aforementioned revelation disappears into thin air and you start hunting for a better picture to post after 10 days.
Sign no 3: Everyone you meet is half your age. Now that is rum, I mean you talk to people and realise they are your kid’s age, (who isn’t a kid anymore and the family is already talking about his foreboding marriage). I mean why is the world population so young? It makes me feel literally -old. Ancient, one and a quarter foot in the grave which is also decayed. This sign is also strengthened by another one- in order to find your year of birth on any online application, you need to scroll for the year and by the time you reach the correct one, it is another year gone. It is like the kid you babysat once is now your doctor. And that makes it almost impossible to flirt with him because you memories of him are of that crawling diaper-clad drooling baby.
Sign no 4- your essential ornament is the one on your eyes, life is hazy without it. Literal blindness. Can’t read the back of the medicine strip, the recipe on the masala sachet, the latest meme on Facebook and the word document that comes on WA. I mean documents are supposed to be read on a computer, my mobile screen with the largest font isn’t the place for it. And spectacles with masks is a spectacle in itself, first dealing with the frost and then not being able to breathe. I know masks and spectacles are the saviours in these times, though in disagreement with each other. Despite that disability, I am able to better recognise idiots from far off (and fend them off), now that I am 50.
Sign no 5: You stop giving a !@#$. You actually start that in your forties, slowly but surely. Enough is enough. Live on your own terms. And conditions (and use the aforementioned spectacles to find the fine print). Who is getting perturbed by what you say, whether the house is immaculate, if what you are wearing is befitting, if the socks match, what is the world contemplating, are worries of the past! You have no qualms being opinionated, showing complete intolerance for fools, forgetting names unashamedly, using the banned words you never used in your youth, flirting with boys (anybody 10 years younger is still a boy), watching the forbidden with eyes wide open, and then some..
Sign no 6: Maybe it is the men-o-pause thing, but all men (and some women) suddenly develop a morbid taste for the “ghanta gyan” (worthless !@#$) accompanied by the most unrelated, unnecessary, unrealistically posed and buxom (I prefer to say fat) middle-aged ladies. And they are the same people who are simultaneously mesmerised by the size zeros. I get it now- it is the kind-of-women-who-may-still-take-interest-in-me-despite-my-potbelly-and-baldness, as an intelligent Choudhary remarked. I wonder why I never see such forwards with a juxtaposed guy? Let me also have my bit of fun!
Sign no 7: You become invisible to people of the opposite sex and to people half your age, except when they need free advice. They stop including you into nonsensical activities because “they think you can’t handle it”. And if by mistake they do ask- you can always make the excuse since you are too old. Men stop flirting with you, and if they do, it is out of pity. Some amount of attention will do you good, somebody needs to remind the inattentive I-am-watching-videos-with-my-new-bluetooth-earphones-spouse. But you can emit loads of free advise starting from children to panellists in a talk, doesn’t matter you’d never trust yourself if you were you, just don’t tell them that.
Sign no 8: Cherry on the top. Some things are free or discounted – like colonoscopy- ugh. And being called “grandma” and the art of coughing, laughing, sneezing and peeing at the same time, the period pain without the period. Things that should be taut and projectile going limp and free falling with gravity, (I am talking about your skin, buddy). But the fact remains that you can still count. And you have your brains intact. You can laugh at others and at yourself. Realising that none of it is under your control anyway, and never was, was something not taught by meditation but only by being fifty.