The happiness in years beyond eighty
No, it’s not a daily occurring in my life. But lately I notice myself wishing it was.
The interactions have been just so brilliant and awe inspiring. Even in the most mundane aspects of life they talk about. It’s perhaps just the way they look at life. Their knowledge silver lined with their experiences. Wondering where I am taking this?
I am talking about our elderly. People who we almost forget in our daily rush. The elderly who are fortunate to see life beyond the age of eighty. Our own, who are repositories of ‘Gyan’, respectfully ignored during the dinner table conversations. But no, it would be wrong to label my recent interactions with this generation as ‘Gyan sessions’. It was anything but that. And that’s what made me fall in love here.
So, I am recently married. I have lived independently most of my life. After high school, I shifted to a different town to experience the college life. And there began the journey, punctuated by nights of instant noodles (mostly because of lack of resources to buy healthier food options) and earth shattering heart breaks of failed relationships. Given that my parent and siblings have always been in different towns, it’s understandable that my interaction with even fifty plus aged people have been superbly far and few. And I would be adding my late night five minute chats with the white-haired guard ji of my Upscale Delhi colony amidst the ‘far and few’. The marriage however, brought in a gamut of relatives into my life. And for once, I was open to the idea of experiencing family up close. The positive attitude that I carry everywhere I say (too much). I was soon introduced to my husband’s maternal grandmother. She is 85 years old. And no kidding, she met me in a pair of trousers with these uber cool dark glasses and eyes that sparkled, even beneath the greyness that years of wisdom bring with them. One thing you notice about her instantly. She is the ‘Joie De Vivre’ of every situation. She continues to be the force that’s kept the family together. She never could learn to speak English. Every reason, she says, to have taught all her five kids in English medium schools. The most forward outlook I realised for our parents who were kids then. She went to the Disney world recently and was most excited as her wheel chair gave her priority entry into every ride she chose. Imagine that. The love for life you need to have to take experience to this level. I will be surprised if I have the energy or the inclination to go all the way even at the age of forty-five.
So, this one beautiful early winter afternoon, I found myself alone at home with her and I decided to ask the most ‘Gyan session’ level question I could muster – With the 80 plus years of experience, what could be the one advice she can give me? She replied almost instantly – Smile through it all. Every experience happens rarely in life. Good or bad. And to bring yourself to the level where you can smile through them all shows one has achieved peace with life itself.
It is something about this age. They lived through World Wars, the Independence struggle, the partition, the family feuds, the deaths of their loved ones and even the daily heart breaks of seeing their materialist gains disappear over the years. And yet, you should see them. Do talk to one of them, one of these days. You will not be disappointed. These people have realised the minuteness of every day incidents. The futility of running after everything. They have learnt how to bring humour into life. They have learnt to smile through it all.
I wish we do too. A bit sooner would be nice.
-The Anonymous Writer