Coming to terms with second childhood

Coming to terms with second childhood

How many of us are game for old age or ageing? Some of us hate old age, some are even afraid of it, some look at it as a harbinger of death.

How many of us are game for old age or ageing? Some of us hate old age, some are even afraid of it, some look at it as a harbinger of death.

It is widely known or seen as a curse, a period of longing and loneliness, a time of decay and decline, a stage of neglect and ill-treatment and so on and so forth.

It is only one side of the story and it has a brighter side to it as well. Remember the words of Ulysses who said that "Old age hath yet his honour". Old age just happens and it has happened in my life too.

Having run the race of life and crossed the first six Shakespearean stages successfully, I have reached the last and seventh stage, i e. old age, the 'second childhood', as the Bard aptly called it.

In fact, I was active if not young, and fit as a fiddle both in body and heart until one day the government of AP asked me to retire on superannuation.

For the first couple of years after retirement I couldn't rather relish the idea of being called a 'retiree'. So, I avoided people who habitually enquired about my teaching career.

In particular I guarded this as a top secret from shopkeepers and my old students in the small, seedy town where I had worked for 25 years. The local business people and others gave me loans and allowed to have big accounts with them.

I didn't let them know about my retirement not because I wanted to do a moonlight one day but because they respected me a lot for the position I held with distinction.

Among them, parents whose children were my students often showered encomiums on me for my services whenever we met in the streets or at functions. I enjoyed all this immensely.

Free praise and admiration are tasty and tempting. Apart from this, who doesn't like the few endearing titles that the old age crowns us with.

I started enjoying the old age once the title "senior citizen" glued me like a shell on a snail. With it, I enjoy the slew of benefits the title has given me.

With the arrival of grandchildren, this oldie has become a grandpa, 'Thatha' in Telugu. Before these grandchildren, I also become a child, see my childhood in them, take frequent trips down memory lane, and long to be a child again.

That is the magic of this 'second childhood'. "Carry the spirit of the child into old age...," said Aldous Huxley. Like a child, I long for my parents whom the efflux of time had carried away to the distant lands in the firmament!

At times, especially when I was alone on the spacious grounds of my college, I yelled at my parents by their names asking them to appear before me at least once!

My wife, six years junior, often taunts and reminds me of my age, especially when I comb well my last remaining thin strands of hair or ask for a well-pressed dress.

Making fun of me again when I have more than two clean shaves a week or stand long before the mirror is her favourite sport! I take it all in my stride and just enjoy it as part of the game.

Like every cloud, every age in our life has a silver lining and old age has no exception. Enjoy it as it happens.

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