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Travails of old age

Author: Syed Ameen

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“Grow old with me, the best is yet to be” -- so said an English poet who was welcoming old age optimistically. It is debatable if the best is reserved by nature and providence, to the end. Old age could be a sort of a curse on man. The advent of dotage is accompanied by a gradual loss of energy, vitality, which could lead to loss of enthusiasm and zest for life. As one gains in strength and wisdom during the process of physical and intellectual growth, so does one encounter the inevitable decline in these spheres of life as ageing catches on. True, one can still counter the evil effects of senility through cultivating “engaging” hobbies and keeping busy.

In these days of blindly aping the Western way of life, nuclear families have nearly shelved the idea of living together. Parents are conveniently packed off and told to live on their own, at the mercy of servants and caretakers with 'cold' comfort provided by mechanical gadgets and aids of pleasure. The warmth and cosy comforts of the living presence of the near and dear ones is becoming a thing of our glorious past.

'Homes for the Aged' spring up to cater to the physical needs of the discarded adults. The world of medicine, research and technology has successfully bloated up man's longevity. We live to be old, more easily than before.

The problem with man is, 'Every man desires to live long but no man wants to be old.' The famous writer Estienne reects on the weaknesses of youth and age when he says, “If youth only knew, if age only could.” An aged father admonishes his young son. He says, “Of all the things you have been told my son, remember I know more about being young than you know about being old.”

Old people do not form a large proportion of the population. They are not 'Old fossils' though they might try to uphold old permanent values and virtues of life. Youth feel they are immortal. Their youth is endless and old age does not touch them. It is time they realised their folly and learned to love and respect the wisdom and green spirit of drying bones and weak limbs.

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