By Aditti Ahluwalia
I am glad to have lived through the times that have made me the person that I am. Nothing has precipitated a major transition but there seems to be a legitimate need to make a shift in priorities. Some of my dreams have been wilfully shrugged off now, knowing as much as accepting the kind of happiness that works for me. One cannot buy emotional love but I do intend to buy lots of tiny experiences and fun adventures which can keep me going till a day after forever.
There is an unending need to do things that will keep me cerebrally satiated as I set foot into the next decade of transition and opportunity. Whereas the analogue values have been strong enough to help me stay in sync with the fast moving digital world, I stand favourably placed, handholding my mother as she gladly embraces the times with aplomb and dignity. The mistakes and miscalculations that I have made are poised to work as a deep learning for the family youngsters as much as it would help them retain perspective. It’s so endearing to see them view life outside of an Instagram filter. As they acknowledge wisdom and experience passed on to them, I see that they embrace and enjoy food with abandon, not fear it.
So do I still miss my 30s or do I want another six months at 49? I have never fibbed about my birthdays. Stepping foot onto a bigger number is not a big enough reason for me to tweak a year here or one there. I respectfully don’t care about the sympathetic glances coming my way, if any. I have turned heads alright, and for a valid reason. To me, hiding age is an unnecessary exercise in rejecting THE gift from God Almighty. Age is a privilege denied to many. Now picture this. If getting older was akin to going up the Candy Crush ladder, then a higher level sounds and looks better? Imagine being on Level 50 while others are stuck at 18/24/36 or what have you. And then to arrive at this number with a 28-year-old and a 24-year-old in tow, it has got to be a whole lot of living. I admit that marrying this young was not the smartest thing that I did, but then where did I say I was smart? What’s most precious to me is recognising who I am and knowing what I truly want. Did I always have such clarity? No! If I was asked to trade my 25-year-old self with the person that I am today, the answer would be a flat ‘NO’.
For all the ridiculous occurrences in the last five seasons of my life, nothing has led to a visible dent in my self confidence or my self esteem. Most of this change is centred around loss, be it the loss of my youth, my dreams that are seemingly a prerogative of only the youth and my exciting future on the whole. But then that’s probably an obsessive portrayal by our society about what a quinquagenarian must feel. I believe I have only gained. Gained in experience, perspective and found the much sought freedom which marks the true essence of my life. I don’t know if it’s right when they say that aging is harder on women than men but for me, this transition in numbers has not derailed either my sex life, nor my sleep or any of the plans for my future. The bones do not squeal anymore than they did 20 years back nor is there a willingness to graduate to stretchy trousers or varifocals just yet. It really doesn’t seem like the end of anything to me. Never have I looked forward to my future with such rapt attention or focus as I do now. And when I tell people this, they get so envious, I start to wonder too.
So what has changed for me in the last three weeks? It’s another milestone. And finally I get there. I am neither worried about drinking as it beautifully blunts the day and embellishes the night. And good food remains the next best fuel for my body, soul and thoughts. But the definition of “getting together or partying” has undergone a major transition. I am no more receptive to subpar social engagements. There is no graphic narrative to explain my glissading into being this crosspatch, but the food and the mood that I now crave has to be more meaningful and at a deeper level. Maybe it’s just a mindset mirroring the curve that I have traversed but if anything promises me an “experience”, I better get one. The harmony that I have or haven’t made with where I stand today, it’s enough for me to know that I am special. Special enough to drop all the non essential concerns and smart enough to focus on my growing bucket list which ought to be accomplished in this finite span allocated to me. I have gladly embraced all my birthdays, but do we have a choice? So allow me to pour myself a good mood now. I have only but just completed the fifth season of my life AND it calls for a celebration.
The word CELEBRATION reminds me that I do have a birthday curse. My birthdays were always kind of lowkey because the end of May marked the beginning of our school’s summer break. Most kids would leave for holidays. My sister and I would also be sent to our maternal grandparents. Hence, most of my birthdays in the earlier years were with my cousins and THEIR friends. Where the neighbourhood kids, whom you meet once in a year, get invited to fill in the numbers. It never seemed like MY day to me. Until one day, my Uncles and Aunts also moved away and there was no one left to wrestle with the details of a celebration. With my family now spread out in different parts of the world, there still is no one to think hard for me on my birthday. Or to plan a “surprise” for me. But I have extricated assurances of lovely occasions stacking up until my next birthday from them all. I crave for nothing more than a significant time with the people I love. The only gift that I greedily seek. And perhaps a warm hug back from life itself. Showing to me, for once, that it loves me back.
(The writer is a food blogger. She can be reached at [email protected])