I’ve been feeling younger since I turned sixty. And this is not another glib sentence I’ve made up as an opening line for a work of fiction. It’s a bare, unadorned fact. But why do I feel young when I ought to feel oldish? I had been pondering over this riddle for some time, and this morning, the answer flashed before me while I was crossing the grey, utterly lonely no-man’s land between sleep and wakefulness.
Turning sixty means you have attained the socially accepted retirement age in our country. Once you have crossed the magic line, even if you don’t have a steady job like yours truly, your friends no longer gives you a miss because you are “unemployed”. No one looks down upon you because your picture never came on Page 3 of any newspaper. Rather, people think that somehow, you have earned your right to sit back and relax under the sun. In other words, the society writes you off as a stick-in-the-mud oldie and stops expecting anything from you. And that, Dear Reader, is the biggest advantage you gain after toiling hard for six decades. I reckon it makes you feel good!
The lack of societal expectancy is reflected in you too. You stop bothering about many things that you worried about earlier. You realise that you didn’t really have to please your boss, if you still had one. Or your spouse, for that matter. If you managed to reach this stage with your wife still being your wife, both of you would be so utterly inter-dependent that you would have realised there was no escape. And you had better accept the truth. Keep fighting, but make merry too, until the winter breeze starts blowing in.
Turning sixty also means you pay less on income tax and for boarding trains. But those are minor benefits. The real thing is that you are spared of the challenges of handling the latest fancy gadget that allows you to kiss someone on the other side of the planet. Even if you had a Facebook account, you wouldn’t really know what to do with it. And you wonder to what use you could put the information where Stefanie Graff or Sreetama Guha partied last night.
Being sixty means you still send those old-fashioned emails and drink your beer from a mug. And you don’t give a damn if it was politically incorrect! If this is not freedom, what is?
Monday, 30 April 2012 / Kolkata