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While I go about my life, my mind still imagines me looking much younger than my eighty years. I haven’t really made friends with the white haired woman with the prune like face I see in my mirror.
One part of growing old is having to let go.
I have lost touch with childhood friends and old acquaintances; their lives have naturally untangled and drifted apart. Other friends are lost to that great deep sleep from which there is probably no awakening. No one calls me ‘Savitha’ or ‘Savvu’ anymore. No one has any tales to tell of from when I was small or young.
My childhood and youth are gone, not just physically or temporally, but mentally as well. People around me do not know me long enough to have those youthful memories of me. In fact, they cannot even imagine me in any other way than as an elderly woman. For that is what I am now. When one grows old, letting go of the past, of certain parts of me, is not a choice or decision, it is an inevitable and difficult process.
It is as if I am breaking my earthly links and slowly fading out of this world.
Physically too, there is a sense of loss. While I go about my life, my mind still imagines me looking much younger than my eighty years. I haven’t really made friends with the white haired woman with the prune like face I see in my mirror. But I know I have aged. My body is rusted; it creaks and aches with almost every move I make. The joints no longer feel oiled, my movements are not fluid. Everything takes too much effort, too much time to get done. It is just as well that I have all the time in the world to get things done now. I have become like a snail that is creeping slowly towards the edge of its green leaf.
If it all reads a bit too morbid, that’s because death is indeed more on my mind these days than ever before. To shine a brighter light on it, I have to plan for death and be ready when it comes. After all, I am only getting closer to it. The mind does dwell on it a bit now. Like, where and how does one want to die? If my husband was still alive, I would have made him promise to hold on to life till I was gone. That was always my plan, to have him see me off. But now, I need to rethink things.
When I was a young mother, holding my little son in my arms, I often had this thought that his home would be my home, the place where I would grow old and die. Now, I feel differently, for no fault of anyone’s. He has a beautiful family, a loving wife, and two lovely kids. After Mohan’s death I did move in with them. But the feeling of being an interloper in their home just wouldn’t go. They couldn’t have been kinder, more loving, more adjusting. But that is the thing. I don’t really like people having to adjust to me, or around me. The awkward silences when I entered, the stiffness and formality that seemed to fill the air when I was around, were unbearable to me. At my request they have put me in a nursing home. I have a room of my own and people to talk to. It is like home.
It is like home, but not really. Where is home? Where was home? Looking back at my life I feel that home was perhaps just this body I inhabited and this too was alien to me at times, its folds and creases, its pains and needs. Home was everywhere and nowhere. Home, I realized now, was anywhere the heart slept in peace. Home was where one unpacked one’s cares and settled them into the wardrobe with one’s clothes. It was where one was complete. I had a home with my parents, a home with my husband, a half way home with my children, and now my home is me. Here I lie in my room, free of all cares but one, and soon there shall be peace.
This story was shortlisted for our June 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. Our juror for the month Kiran Manral says “A touching account of ageing and waiting to die.”
Image source: shutterstock
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I am a proud mom to two beautiful little boys, loving wife to a darling man, and a grateful daughter of wonderful parents. Before taking a career break to be a stay at home mom read more...
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
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