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Musings of a Gracefully, but Inevitably, Ageing Aunty

by Aiden

Dolly Koghar won’t let age hold her back from living life to the fullest.

Quite by chance, I came across a photo of a lush, rolling slope liberally dotted with grazing sheep and families on picnic mats. There were also about a dozen or so white ducks floating in a fenced-up little pond at the bottom of the hill. I squinted to see better, and sought out my reading specs. They didn’t help much as my eyes misted over and I was transported to a gorgeous, early-spring afternoon at a sheep farm on Mt. Rokko. It could have been just yesterday that I was prodding the kids to feed the pellets to the burly, unshorn sheep, while maintaining a safe distance myself. Time and tide didn’t wait for my permission, and in a blink of an eye those ‘kids’ have become parents to children who are themselves ready to cross the threshold into adulthood.

Without beating around the bush or mincing words, what I’m trying to say is that while everybody else is blossoming, I’m doing the exact opposite. I’m a few inches shorter, while my waist is overextended. My once ebony-black, Rapunzel-like tresses are now a mane of some nondescript shade of white and grey. Although the eventual outcome is very liberating, I’d readily admit that the initial stages needed a lot of resolution and perseverance.

Whoever coined the phrase, ‘you are only as old as you think’, was either a young chicken or a lying senior. I can think young, but the aches and the pains and the creaking bones are not fooled, and neither is the doctor from whom I expected some empathy. He just shook his head and gave a Mona Lisa smile and said, “It’s nothing, it’s just your wai thong (golden years)!”

But the very worst is being banished into the invisible sector of society. Whether I’m dressed to kill or look like a bimbo, the chances are 100 percent that I’ll be overlooked and ignored; I’m incognito and nonexistent. The world forgets that I, too, was once young and svelte and hip and happening. ‘Hamara bhee jamana thaa’ (it was our time too). 

The lines you see on my face aren’t signs of wisdom; neither should they be the barometer to upgrade/downgrade me from being addressed as ‘phee’ (sis) then ‘paa’ (aunty) and now, ‘khun yai’ (grandma). Honestly, inside, I’m still a muddled young girl; wondering who I am, or want to be, and have actually become. Regrettably, there’s that much less time to figure things out and I’ve neither the gung-ho nor the gusto to search for my elusive self in caves or on mountaintops.

So, from the comforts of my rocking chair, I’ll cruise through the accumulated backlog of my life and hope to discover a hidden something about myself which I might have missed out on in the flurry to live life. I am now standing somewhere near the pinnacle of my life’s journey. From this vantage place, I have a panoramic view of the past, which should be well behind me by now, but isn’t. There’s plenty of the usual shoulds and woulds and coulds and if onlys and also the bumps and potholes on the meandering trial. But along that same road, there were fragrant flowers and wonderful people, which I passed over because I was too busy running the world.

Subsequently, am I whom I could and should have become, the best version of myself, or am I a far cry from that objective? Who’s to judge whether I’ve scored an average or a D minus in life, me or society? Either way, henceforth, I’ll try living with awareness and mindfulness. I’ll gaze at the setting sun with the wonder it deserves. I’ll search the moon intently for the rabbit pounding omochi rice. When it rains, I’ll step out to smell the wet mud (with an umbrella). With zero guilt, I’ll savor each spoon of After You as if it’s my very first, and perchance, my very last! 

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