May 31, 2015
Why should the public often address elderly men and women who have crossed the age of seventy, with various slangs and misnomers? I feel that people have a very wrong notion about the elderly people. From my personal point of view and experience I find, there is no other slice of one’s life that could match up to the joy and thrill of being in the seventies! As I see it, for me it is the spring time of one’s life span. You might find it hard to believe it but it is very true, only if one prepares to usher into this era far in advance.
Unfortunately, writers, poets and people close at hand construe this period as the worst period of one’s life, mired with poverty and sickness. How pathetic!! If one is careful right from the beginning, this thought could well be nothing but some figment of one’s imagination. Even the Bard, (Shakespeare), has drawn a very pathetic picture of this spring time of one’s life to the detriment of all those who often shudder to step into this season of spring of seventies.
The Bard has drawn a very gloomy picture of this period, though not directly alluding to the age seventy, but all the same the evidence is all there to see and surmise. He says, it is the second childhood, mere oblivion, and what is worse, “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Really! What a pathetic conclusion!
The prevailing practice is such that people close at hand don’t even think twice before addressing and downgrading these respectable senior, glorious men and women in all walks of life. They address them “budov”/”budiya” here in Lucknow and there in Kudla, they have any number of names, to the glee and glory of the naughty and not so naughty ones.
They call them, “matharo”, “mathari”, “Koosad”. And to add to their woes, they even invent jumpy lyrics with dicy beats. Now take this one in Konkani: – “Aab ani Vodlimai nidli Malyar, Malya voilo vundir yevun aglo thalyar” and not to be let down, they have equally upbeat one in Tulu as well, - “Ajjerena illa mith Santhanida mara, aitha vonji kethe detid berik botodya”. See how wonderfully we glorify our respectable senior citizens? Do you like that?
Only recently, I too had the privilege of bolting past seventy, hence now, for some, I am an “Uncle” that I have been so from time immemorial; - their number overwhelmingly outnumbers any others calling me by other similar slangs. Some of them call me with that very old household name “babuji” which is a recent addition. Some Manglokars/Kudlakars, might take delight in referring me as “Matharo” which is quite understandable.
Curiously though I do not take it as an affront to my age, yet I am far from being comfortable someone calling me “babuji” and if that someone is someone who is no one to me. I am neither a relation, nor would like one to be and yet this saga goes on and on and they insist that I be their “babuji”. What’s wrong in just saying “Jimmy”, - short and sweet – besides it makes you feel young as young you are??
This kind of addressing elderly people up here in UP has spiraled down from eternity, so one cannot but live with it. It does make me feel old, very old. People do not realize how it hurts, particularly when I see that it is only the other day that I was young with all kinds of mischief and more mischief and now that I have bolted past seventy, you make me overnight your “babuji”? Well, if I feel babuji, if I talk babuji and walk babuji, then it is a different matter. But here I am as young as ever, talk young, feel young and walk young, and you dare make me “babuji” with all that stupid stuff? I still feel great, so what all this hassle about my being seventy and coining me super senior and all that nonsense?
There are a whole lot of them in their seventies doing great all over the world. There were Presidents,and Prime Ministers and there are presidents and prime ministers well past that age. There are billionaires all around – Warren Buffet 88, and there are any number of CEOs well past seventy.
Now look at the reality of it all. This morning I was all around in the fish market in Lucknow, where they sell different kinds of meat fish and what not, and wherever I trudge, I carried myself with a gait of any other young and younger man’s and walked faster and more sprightly than most others, with my head held high and back straight for I have seen and slogged to ensure that I keep fit to the level expected of a healthy man and yet, all these butchers, fishermen, and even men who have overtaken my age by miles, are not shy of calling me “babuji”? Hey, this is really too much. Try doing that in the West and I won’t be surprised if you end up getting a black eye!!
Why? Why do they do this? What is wrong my hitting seventy? All of us are bound to reach that magic figure anyway. So, if you like, say, “Hello young man, how’s life.” That sounds great, isn’t it?
You scan any paper if you like, “Daiji” or whatever, you see host of them unfortunately snuffed out before hitting that figure of seventy. Even my two best friends breathed their last pretty young, leaving a terrible void in my life – one in early forties the other in early fifties, - 53 to be precise!! How healthy they looked!!
Let me tell you one thing; believe it or you don’t believe, I simply do not care, OK? There is no life as happy as happy it could be, when you have hit your seventies. Never mind, you call them “Uncle”, “Babuji”, and as you do in your backyard, dubbing them “Matharo” – “Sarbellow Matharo”, believe me, there is no life that could even distantly match up to the happy seventies, never mind what the Bard says, what your ward says, you are seventy and that is great – verry grreat!!
But there is a catch. The Bard, (Shakespeare) himself has advised, in more than one of his plays, "Much Ado About Nothing", "Macbeth" and so on, that you should in your youth restrain yourself from debauchery,(very easy!!), never be a bottle master, but master the bottle, take care of your diet, and chances are you will live long and live happily too.
What is it, tell me that’s going to torment you in your happy seventies? All those hurdles that have been pestering you all through your life, by now have been weeded out. By the time you reach your seventies, chances are that you will have wandered around the Gulf and earned and saved frugally for the rainy day, educated your children well and now they must be in the Gulf or in some position that matters, and on whose income you can fall back on if so needed, and if you got your daughters married, why not, even they would extend a helping hand should ever such an eventuality light up?
So now that you are seventy, feel good, get up early, walk for forty minutes around a decent park, as the Sun in the East begins to smile upon mother earth, and all the trees and greens send out pure oxygen for you to breathe, and thereon you go back home, pick out your daily paper, watch a bit of TV, freshen up, have a sumptuous breakfast with your wife, and then set out to market and return. Drive down to the bank if need be, go to the chemist and return and relax. After lunch, you have all the time in the world for a good nap and then spend the evening the way you love to.
You might as well like to go out in the evening to see a friend or neighbor, return home, and might as well taste your evening coffee or whatever in moderation, have a healthy meal and after offering thanks to God for the wonderful day, you might as well hit the bed to be all set to open up the comingl day that breaks up the next morning.
Last but not the least, never forget to visit the temple of God once a week and thank Him for all His blessings.
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