©The Dorian Gray Syndrome
Looking young and fit has been no big deal for me and my siblings. It is purely a matter of inherited genes. With black hair, solid bones (I mean no osteoporosis) and a sunny disposition, we have always been taken to be much younger than our actual age. My sister at 92 years has all her faculties and sharp wits around in addition to a thatch of hair which has turned fully white only recently, probably because even God could not believe her real age!
My brother died in his eighties with salt and pepper hair (more pepper than salt) retaining all his faculties till the end. Unfortunately my other brothers died in their forties and fifties, but with jet black hair.
The other day someone mistook my son to be a new friend of my grand daughter, I believe. She had to explain, “Come on, that was my dad.”
But for this sort of “looking to be in 30s while in 60’s, in 50’s while in 70’s”phenomenon, we did not have to put in extra efforts or resort to any of those artificial means which only the very rich can afford, such as, face lifts, make over, kayakalpa or any plastic surgery. To repeat myself – it was just a matter of genes. Consequently compliments were quite commonplace.
As for my husband, though he has inherited baldness from father’s side and grey hair from mother’s side along with their good looks, he has been able to retain his fitness and younger-than-his age looks thanks to a disciplined regime –a legacy of his Air force days. Gifted with quick reflexes he continues to ride his scooter and drive his car without accidents, touch wood. Thus he also has been the recipient of quite a few compliments from envious people much junior to him including the one from his doctor who could not believe that he was in his 80’s (and not in ‘60s).
But these days, with health insurance, modern advances in medicine and a general awareness, people do keep fit and younger looking for a longer period. In the olden days, when joint families were the order of the day, a bourgeoning family with generations after generations of children did indeed thrust a senior status on a man still young in years. In fact, there was a time when I thought my mother to have become terribly old and so would not be capable of traveling alone in the city. Poor thing was only 60 years old at that time! Moreover, in those days Bangalore was not the traffic jungle it is now.
But now in the present nuclear families, with married or adult children taking off on their own, the parents are free to carry on their own hobbies, pastimes and activities which their fitness and comfortable purses permit. Instead of the ‘empty nest syndrome’, couples can now resume their honeymoon, which had been interrupted due to child bearing and rearing. We find seniors sporting Bermudas, low waist jeans with broad belts and trendy sport shoes and ladies in smart jeans or salwaars and trendy tops enjoying local outings, national and international jaunts.
The compliments which had been the sole privilege of a few are now enjoyed by all. It looks as if a campaign is on to compliment every senior citizen on his/her fitness. When a chronic ‘wet blanket’ commented, “These days every oldie is complimented like this. It makes their day and keeps things generally pleasant all round”, I wondered whether the compliments we had been taking for granted all along were part of a PR exercise against geriatrics!