Suresh Menon

Rel­ish­ing the golden age of 50 while oth­ers slog away.

Friday - - Contents -

I think it was TS Eliot (or it might have been Ge­orge Eliot) who said the years be­tween 50 and 70 are the hard­est. “You are al­ways be­ing asked to do things,” he said (or she said – don’t for­get Eliot was a woman), “and yet you are not de­crepit enough to turn them down.”

I know ex­actly what Eliot (or was it Dorothy Parker?) meant. Through sheer ded­i­ca­tion and by stay­ing alive, I ar­rived at that happy age be­tween those two fig­ures. And I feel the joy of my tem­per­a­ment fi­nally be­gin­ning to catch up with my age. Let me ex­plain.

For some peo­ple, it is of­ten their names that catch up with their looks as time passes. Thus, some­one named Bul­lock ac­tu­ally be­gins to look like one, or a Ma­son be­gins to have the sat­is­fied look of a worker who has heard the close of day. This is dif­fi­cult for me to achieve be­cause I carry nei­ther the name of an an­i­mal nor a pro­fes­sion. If I be­gan to look like my name, no­body would know, be­cause you can’t find ei­ther of my names in a dic­tionary (un­less it is a mis­print).

But age is another mat­ter. Al­ready in my teens, I was one of the lazi­est men around; too lazy to even ad­mit the fact. My mother de­spaired about ever ask­ing me to do a house­hold chore. My plan was to wait and wait un­til she had for­got­ten or she did it her­self. In my 20s, it was my wife who was the re­cip­i­ent of my pre­ma­ture de­crepi­tude – within a few months of our mar­riage, she sim­ply stopped ask­ing me.

As more and more labour-sav­ing de­vices en­tered the home, here a wash­ing ma­chine, there a dish­washer, over in the cor­ner ly­ing on a sofa read­ing a book was the man who had made labour-sav­ing an art form. Read­ing from left to right, me.

I may be decades away from the dead­line set by Paul Krug­man (or was it Jay Leno?), but peo­ple have stopped ask­ing me to do things. Now, thanks to yet another labour-sav­ing de­vice, I don’t even have to flick the pages of a book I am read­ing while not do­ing any work. I sim­ply touch a screen and that’s that.

If I am like this now, what will I be like in 20 years’ time when I of­fi­cially be­come de­crepit, ac­cord­ing to Eliot? As Si­mon and Gar­funkel sang, “How ter­ri­bly strange to be 70…” At least, I think they did, but I am too de­crepit to look it up.

Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world but later de­cided to leave it as it is.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.