Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Learning Survival Skills

I walk slowly these days. My knees say, slow down. I picked up my granddaughter from Primary School today. Six years ago, I'd carry her all the way from the nursery, five minutes away. Two years ago , I could still sprint after her when she showed signs of straying on to the road or running away to the back of the school. Today she walked well in front of me pausing to wait now and then, while I caught up.

     Mind you, I have to admit, even in my tennis days I avoided running to the ball; the ball had to come to me. Allowances have to be made for laziness.

   'Sorry, Baby.' I said to Asha as she walked to the car with me.. 'Ammamma is slow today. The knees are not so good.'
   'You're perfect,' she said, taking my hand to cross the road. Who is looking after who?

     I suppose most people my age have the same problems: wonky knees, stiff hips, a tendency to sway back or to the side. And then the sullen digestive system, which has its own agenda. When I stay with friends my age, their bedside cabinets are the same as mine. They contain: ointments for knees and hips and weary shoulders, balms for chest, pills for constipation or for acidity.

     When we travel a large part of our luggage is daily medication. I think we should just phone each other to check whether the same medicines are in their houses too. Like asking a friend whether we need to bring towels and tooth paste when we go for a weekend.

   When I meet up with my College mates in Chennai a large part of our day is spent talking about our various degenerative ailments. Tremors, constipation, anxieties, arthritic bones, all these figure prominently in our conversation. We are light-hearted about these as nothing much can be done about all this. Age is irreversible even when it does not show very much.

     One or two have died. Like being air-brushed off, without making a noise. One or two have cancers; they deal with it with dignity and humour. After all, we've got this far, they say. I hope they are totally cured and I feel sorry about the chemos and the radiations that leave them tired and with loose teeth.

     These friends of mine have beautiful skin, though nearing eighty years. They laugh like girls. But we eat small quantities of food, we can't read the small-print on packages in the shops when we go shopping, and we tire too soon.

     I have noticed though, as the world has started to become less respectful of me, I have become more demanding. The nastiness buried deep in us comes out as a survival skill. If a stranger assumes I am stupid because I am old, fat, ugly or slow, I hit back. In England being all these and Indian too does not help. 

     Our heads have not quite caught up with our ageing bodies. The hiatus shows.

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