The impotence of being young and being old

There is nothing called too much loneliness. Either you are alone, ruminating on the chances of a possibility, any possibility, of breaking that immovable reverie; or you’re lonely, staring into empty chasms of emptiness, solitary disillusionment and an inevitable vertigo as you climb down the stairs. Meet my grandmother, who haunts my grandpa’s ghost for having left her to live vacuous, long years in a self-made asylum, her bubble of immobility, a timeless cage where nobody and nothing is welcome, nothing moves and she counts time with the impatience of a man waiting his trial.

She sits in grandpa’s old arm chair, looking out at the coconut trees, lamenting the death of day as the sun goes down. It is difficult to fall in love in her presence. It is difficult to see the joy in life as her old woman’s smell tickles my nose. She smells of cold, slick balm, a concoction my uncle bought her during one his long trips, for her endless pains and aches. She smells of old Cuticura powder, of her green Ayurvedic soap, of sandalwood and mothball silk saris- the white remains of dark widowhood.

It is difficult to laugh near her, as she turns and looks at you in the eye, her face like wrinkled satin, her smile of lost elastic, her roads that would turn from moving womanhood to sterile aging.

She reads her magazines, watches soaps and idly point out the young men whose jeans are too low, shirts too bright and who have inconvenient faults in their stars. She would comment with a frown at the futility of teenage girls as they go in blue denims and short tops and scream in vengeful ecstasy as the hero kills the villains in her soaps. Later, as I bring her the balm with evident discontent, she would remark casually, “I was once a leaf green too.”

Her touch feels like a cold draught, a cacophony of silent blizzards as she pets me with love. As I hug the teddy bears and endless boxes of chocolates from loved ones, I shiver. I imagine those boxes that would one day not contain chocolate, but strips of pills and medicines; those new tops that would tear, fade away from their existence in the shelves, and reduce me into a woman in a white sari. Those, which will one day, weave my life into tradition and family values that I do not know which is which and which is where. They will be so delicately intertwined that one loose thread may lead all hay-wire.

My grandmother teaches me life through silent yet profound meanings, actions which day by day, reduces the rainbow colors that my youth loves, and make clearer, larger, more melancholic image of memories, unrequited love, and the pains of being old and being widowed. Worst of all, she pushes me into an existentialist void that, when I think about it, shakes my reality with a certain kind of alarm.

3 Responses to The impotence of being young and being old

  1. Ranjit says:

    Every soul has to pass through various stages in life and has to play different roles in this Eternal World Drama. New becomes old and old become new, after the inevitable change. It appears strange for young ones to think themselves playing a role that seems tasteless and life-less…yet the reality is that all have to pass through that stage..Aiswarya, you have beautifully described the present state of grandma’s mental environment…Try to think yourself in her place ..and you will find more commonality with her..more ease and comfort will be there to understand and harmonise with her…She is lucky that you are there to care for her and be with her…try to ask the grandma about her childhood days, share with us the stories she might remember and relate to you…elders are a mine of treasure..try to bring out some of that reservoir, for the readers and friends..congrats for this herat touching post..Ranjit

  2. Ranjit says:

    Sorry, ”congrats for this heart-touching post”..Ranjit


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