Monday, September 30, 2013

EN ROUTE TO THE CRYPT


“When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick!”
-George Burns

There is no other creature that fears death as much as humans. But if there exists an even greater fear that haunts them every day of their life, it’s the fear of ageing. The slow disintegration in their journey towards that big exit, as is to be understood, would top the list of Strong Human Fears irrespective of the sexes. Death is not an every day worry as one conveniently tries to place it in a very distant future, and as nobody quite knows for sure what’s on the other side of the wall. But that’s not the case with ageing. The living cases of disintegration and decay, up and about, surrounding you are frightening with omens of an impending phase of strife and suffering.

However this fear doesn’t actually manifest to an upsetting and recognizable size before one is perhaps thirty. As a colleague once said, “Overnight, when your favorite food starts to give you flatulence and you struggle to run the same distance that you effortlessly covered the day before, don’t worry, you have turned thirty!” I’m not quite sure of the scientific side, but I have to agree there was some amount of honesty in the hopelessness in his voice. Like, they say, the best age for a woman to bear your first child is before thirty. And studies have also proved that by thirty years of age, at least three in ten males start to go bald. So there is to be something about that age when the temple that is our body slowly starts to soak in one of the harsher realities of life.

Comedienne Joan Rivers, her face dreadfully stiff from all that Botox, in a talk show few months ago, said, “It’s very hard (to age) if you’re attractive… It’s very hard for a woman to get older, and older men (gasps)…! I always faked orgasm, but with these older men, you moan and groan in the wrong ear, they don’t hear it. It’s such a waste!” She vividly lists various other snags of getting old in most of her stand-ups. You look at her face, and a shudder runs through your middle. It’s pulled in all directions to keep it from collapsing on the sides. The poor woman can hardly move it to show glee or grief. It’s unnerving to look at the sad remains that once was her face entirely mummified by those countless cosmetic interventions employed to preserve its “youthful vigor”. And preserve, it did. It’s as if you pulled a “statue” on her!

Studies prove that there has been a 50% boom in the number of Americans (majority falling in the 40-50 age group) who underwent cosmetic procedures since the start of the century. Europe and Asia have also come up with mindboggling numbers encouraging this already booming enterprise. And the number of men buying into the idea has been found to be quite staggering. All of the business cashing in on the basic human fear of ageing. What one fails to understand at the time is that the effects of these plastic surgeries that are expected to halt the clock are only temporary. Later on they merely go on to become a ridiculous parody of a messed-up still life.

Even though the concern about its affect on the looks upsets women more, men tend to understand the change from other bodily malfunctions besides merely the outward appearance, although a fair share of them in the entertainment industry are unapologetic to express their uneasiness regarding their waning beauty as well.

While being superficial, the physical appearance is only one of the numerous aspects that are scary about getting older. You dig deeper and you start to stumble on an absent-minded head faculty, a bitter heart and a laid-back intestine that propels endless farts as untimely as possible, only to mention a few blips. However, what is more difficult to cope with is very mental. Even the thought of getting older is psychologically taxing at so many different levels. It can widely be noticed that self-esteem starts to shrink into its shell after a certain age. You stop to have topics to discuss with the kids anymore ‘cause they haven’t heard of Kurt Cobain and they find Elizabeth Hurley old, not hot!

World is a cold and merciless place for the outdated. Heartbreaking narrative in Marquez’s No one writes to the Colonel and the crumbling imagery drawn in Haneke’s Academy award winning Amour are all vivid depictions of this decrepit state. But that is way too distant to even start thinking about! (Shudder)

I was not much of a fretter myself. But the idea for the first time walked to the middle of my personal space and jeered when I was in my mid twenties. One of the random kids in the neighborhood addressed me as “uncle”. It was this gigantic ugly kid in his twelfth grade (I know!), only a few years younger than me, peeking over the compound wall asking me to toss back his basketball. It was even more heartbreaking when I found out that the boy wasn’t even kidding. Bloody butt-wipe!

Even though methods to prevent and reverse the process of ageing is rigorously on in many research centers spread across our youth-obsessed planet, there is no thought attributed to ponder over the sad state that the limited space and resources available around us will be pushed to. Just imagine the world still filled with people from 500 years ago trying to catch up with Testament’s latest Thrash metal album! To maintain the balance, let’s stop being all selfish and Joan Rivers about it. Let’s accept the fact and chew down the truth (only it sounds like the ore clobbering inside the crusher).

It’s in fact redundant when you say you don’t believe in ageing, like Virginia Woolf once did (pfftt). That is only a denial mechanism used by some really old women who wished, “Age was just a number”. You Bet! You acknowledge it or not, it has started it’s effect from the very day you were born! There is no cure to it, sweetheart! So stop fretting, and smile on as Mark Twain once said, “Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.”
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