For some odd reason, mum got a fairness soap for the washbasin…so in 4 to 6 weeks i’ll have a pair of whiter palms.

All day long i was trying to work out the solution to an odd problem. in the evening i went up to the terrace to walk away my podge and in the process bounce off some ideas. most importantly, to catch a few moments by myself. i had just walked for 5 minutes when an elderly gentleman from a floor below caught up with me. this gentleman has a reputation of being a motor-mouth and today was my turn to listen to his sermons. he started off with a detailed instruction on walking as an exercise…speed, time, gear etc. next he went on to his days in the army, the lack of transport in this part of the city 46 years ago, railroads, zamindars who lived around here 200 years back, the buildings they lived in, the number of wives they usually had, the moghul emperors and how they had influenced the zamindars, the british and the ships that they had sailed, the superior culture that they had brought with them, warren hastings, sepoy mutiny, the queen, how the british civilized the natives, dignity of labour and his penchant for cleaning toilets, power that women enjoyed in households, his mother’s dictatorship, his daughter-in-law and the umpteen complaints he had against her, suitability of industrial towns for cycling etc. well…at the start i expected it might be an interesting conversation as most people his age are a storehouse of stories of the old days, but by the time he reached “number of wives of zamindars”…it became a monotonous drawl of his complaints and lamentations. he was evidently growing senile. i had no choice but to stand in rapt attention and nod my head at sutiable intervals so as not to offend him. finally when i managed to excuse myself i had lost the urge to walk and with it the chain of thot. later i was reading suchi’s ( post….and the “daffodils” never sounded better. the bliss of solitude…that eluded me for a good 45 minutes.

It is not unusual for elderly people to pour their hearts out to others…even a perfect stranger. the pangs of loneliness at the fag end of existence drives them to cry out for attention. few people age gracefully. but most try to hold on to the days of the glorious past. old-age is scary and perhaps that is why the first trace of a greying hair fills one with dread. it heralds the coming of an age when one would have to bow down to nature. conventionally it is an age when people are forced to give up on their independence and with it the control of their lives. in the absence of any engagements that would otherwise hold their attention, they make futile attempts to fit into an existing system. more often than not the system has moved ahead with time. they try to judge it according to the ancient parameters known to them and fail miserably. what happens next is the harsh realisation of losing control. it is often said that old-age is like a second childhood. the difference…a baby comes with a clean slate but an aged-person has a lifetime behind him/her. it is difficult to fade out the pictures of the past and impossible when there is nothing to look forward to.

Some people take up their hobbies seriously, find solace in religion, make friends of their own age or find other ways to make themselves useful. the distraction helps them to keep away from the daily workings of the areas from which they have disengaged themselves. people like the gentlemen in question have not found the deviations that would allow them to surrender completely. the younger generation who don the mantle of responsibility have worked out their own scheme of running the household without disturbing the elders. unfortunately the elders do not like to be left out of an arena that they have handled all their lives. the result, a sordid clash of the erstwhile and would-be titans. since the would-bes are in charge the erstwhilers are compelled to give up the kingdom. disgruntled at being sidelined, they crave to feel important and try to hold attention from every possible quarter.

perhaps the 45 minutes that i spent with him, gave him enormous pleasure. it would have been better if my mind was in a lesser state of turmoil.

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