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
For our columnist Suresh Menon, age is all about benefits.
You always remember the first time. The first time you beat a parent at chess, the first car, the first time someone calls you a senior citizen. ‘Don’t insult me, I am not a senior citizen,’ I told the kindly bank employee who was only being helpful as I stood in a queue to exchange my old currency notes for new ones, thanks to the recent demonetisation in India. Similar to Aladdin, who once memorably did the same with his lamp and managed to set off a series of adventures that ended with him getting trapped between the covers of a children’s book.
‘I am actually only 24, just prematurely grey,’ I explained. Well, the second half of the sentence was partly true. I was once prematurely grey but now I am quite maturely grey. I wasn’t sure just how I should establish my non-senior citizenhood, though. Touch my toes? Run up and down the stairs? Do a cartwheel? Punch the side of the building? Read messages off my twitter account? Watch a reality show on my phone?
I was reminded of the character in Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, who would rather go to jail as a criminal than reveal that she was illiterate and therefore could not have written the diary on which her conviction was based. I would rather stand in the back of the queue than be unmasked as a senior citizen, with those around me speaking just that bit louder and closer to my ear.
In the end I relented, for it meant a different queue, faster service, and a remarkable tolerance for my inability to fill in forms correctly the first time, a condition I have been suffering from since the age of 10 but which seems justified and age-appropriate now. What goodies can I look forward to when I finally turn 60 many (many) years from now? Perhaps the bank will send its staff to stand in a queue outside my house holding new currency notes while I search for old notes that I know I have kept safely somewhere.
After years of rising for senior citizens in our buses and bistros, I look forward to being stood up for. After years of allowing older people to go ahead of me at the
After years of RISING for senior citizens in buses, I look forward to being stood up for. After years of allowing OLDER people to go AHEAD of me at supermarkets, I look forward to moving to the head of queues by RIGHT
supermarket cash registers, I look forward to moving to the head of the queue by right.
There was a time when people with grey hair spent a fortune on blackening it. Now the traffic is in the other direction. A youngster at the back of the queue at the bank disappeared for a while, and returned looking older, grey hair and all. Or I may have imagined it. We senior citizens are like that sometimes.