“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety,” the famous lines from William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra that describes the legendary beauty of Cleopatra. What is it about these lines that resonate with us?
40ssss! It seems so easy breezy now. I am happy, I feel fab. I have cracked the code, nailed it!!
I have embraced the 40s and I feel great. I am financially more solvent. Folks have stopped bothering me about my marriage plans. Maybe, they have given up on me and it suits me perfectly. I can go on with my life without having to frame polite responses to the very intrusive questions posed mostly by distant aunts and neighbours. “My Babli just had her second child. Her husband bought a Merc. So, when are you planning to settle down? You are seeing somebody I am sure?” While I would try to smile and say politely “I am already settled aunty, in my job and career,” my angry heart would yell out, “Well your Babli rides her husband’s Merc, while I drive around in my own car.” After a while, these questions stopped bothering me.
But trust me it hasn’t always been easy. It did take me a while to admit even to myself that I was turning 40. The first flush of youth, that I kind of took for granted, is over and I am entering a more mature phase in my life. I still remember when the neighbourhood grocery delivery boy called me aunty, I was shocked. I would have strangled him if I could, instead, I maintained a stunned silence. When my hairdresser casually mentioned, “You seem to be greying Ma’am,” I wanted to snatch his pair of scissors and chop off his ponytail. And then, when the grey streaks started showing up adamantly, I did get upset for a while. Finally, I streaked my hair red. To hell with the greys!
Mid-30s were probably the most difficult. I suddenly felt time was running out. I often pondered upon how life was passing by and I have done nothing worthwhile. Wallowing self-pity would engulf me from time to time. Fear of dying alone would keep me awake at night. I somehow blamed myself for the fact that I didn’t have a ‘special someone’ in my life. “Should I marry the next guy I meet?”, was the question I constantly asked myself.
One evening, while I was pouring my heart out to a friend who was on a sabbatical after having her second child, she looked at me enviously and said, “You are financially independent, you do whatever you like, go wherever you want. What more do you need?” Sounding a little exasperated she added, “Look at me! Even stepping out for a cup of coffee is a challenge,” Maybe it was me raving and ranting, maybe the baby girl wailing on and off, got on her nerves.
Driving back that evening I thought about what she said. My life seemed so much better compared to many people around me. I could get up in the morning and go for a walk or get up just early enough to reach office on time. In the evening I could meet a friend for a coffee or a drink, or just curl up in the bed with a book. I cooked when I wanted, what I wanted. My house was always in order. No toys or shoes lying here and there. Don’t get me wrong, I am not belittling conjugal bliss or motherhood. My friends’ amazing kids somewhat take care of my maternal needs. I am the cool aunt who gets to do all the fun things.
When I look back at the nervous 21-year-old taking a DTC bus for her first job interview, the girl confidently driving to her own apartment certainly seems to have come a long way. Once I realized what I achieved, learned to look at the positives, I was freed from the occasional sense of panic or rush to complete the accomplished tasks. I decided to enjoy what I have instead of fretting over what I may not have. The approaching 40s didn’t look all that scary, instead, I looked forward to the years that lay ahead of me and what they may have in store. Having a supportive family and amazing friends certainly helped!
I recently came across an old clip where Simi Grewal was interviewing late Dev Anand. On being asked about aging the evergreen star said that he doesn’t feel old at all. “I still feel 20, I have only matured.”
I feel better than I felt in my 20s, the passing years have made me wiser and happier. I have learnt to love and appreciate myself and that feels great! Of course, the lush green has somewhat mellowed. But who wants to be evergreen when there are so many colours to look forward to – the yellows and the reds, the beautiful orange of the autumn or the serene white of the winter!
Junction 40, with so many choices, winding lanes and rich hues is probably the most exciting junction where I stopped a while to ponder!!