How old is really old.....?

How old is really old.....?

Durgadas P.V.

Age is often referred as a mere number by many to reaffirm that they have not become old enough to be called " old ".

When my father was in state government service, he was considered old at the age of fifty five and was given retirement. In the case my elder brother who served the central government, the superannuation was at the age of fifty eight. In my case , the management told me to call it a day when I reached the age of sixty. My friend, a doctor, was allowed to continue in active government service until he was sixty five. And he is still busy working in a private medical college.

The retirement need not be synonymous with feeling old. With better health conditions, mental and physical, one need not necessarily retire from active life after retirement. These days there are so many methods to keep the young appearance or in other words camouflaging the looks like movie artists.

In India, attaining the ages of sixty, seventy and every ten years thereafter are considered important milestones in life. At each step one is expected to keep away from earthly pleasures step by step. I have been observing that some people who led spirited lives till they earned salary, turned to spiritual ones as they started getting pension. I do not attribute this only to the sudden reduction in fringe benefits and perks enjoyed while in service. And in some cases, the transformation becomes very glaring. It seems like someone who batted like Chris Gayle of twenty-twenty match suddenly took to in Ravi Shastri style in a six day test match. (Colour of dress not excluded).

But in my opinion, it depends on the physical and mental activity in which one could engage after the so called date of retirement. Some people forget that they have retired. They still dress up in formals whenever they move out especially to their previous work place in connection with any petty personal jobs. They also expect the same level of recognition and treatment there. They invariably come out disgusted very fast as the respect and acceptance seldom go with the age but always with the chair. The frustration sometimes reaches the peak as they see the attitude of condescension displayed by the newgens sitting there. In such a situation one starts feeling that he has become obsolete if not old. A slightly different trend is seen among my friends who retired from armed forces. They try to display their last position held by fondling their greying mustache and sporting a cap with ensign in golden embroidery proclaiming the rank held. While joining us in the morning walks they invariably carry a short black wand which is beneficial only for driving away certain under-nourished stray dogs on the way.

One gets reminded of the age when, people around start referring to you as " uncle ". This could be controlled to some extent by patronising to a few brands viz Godrej, LOreal etc... This would tantamount to feigning....! But I consider a few other parameters to console myself to be" young ". To be able to walk freely without the help of a walking stick, climb couple of floors without gasping, put on the long trousers without sitting on the bed, able to carry one hand baggage and catch  international connecting flights without a wheel chair, able to croon a couple of Shreya Ghoshal songs along with old the Saigal/Hemantkumar ones etc are a few of them.

Having the bliss of grand children elevates one's social designation. From father one becomes a grand father ......! But this process makes you feel younger.
In USA, a "senior" is someone who has crossed sixty five years. I am presently in US in the company of my two little sufficiently naughty grandsons. As I run with them in the park, play soccer for ten/fifteen minutes, bike guiding them through the side walks for a couple of kilometers , I certainly feel that I am young among the seniors.........!