Ageing gracefully is an art few can master. And the ones who do, do it with élan. My mother is one of them. Her hair started greying when she was in her 30s and she has maintained her salt and pepper look with flamboyance over the years, drawing inspiration from actress Nafisa Ali.
Considering the fact that my father is a devoted buyer of hair-colouring products and has over the years managed to camouflage his age rather well, my mother's hair have become a constant source of anecdotes for our family.
Every now and then, there is some stray comment or remark to share about the two that has us in splits.
It so happened that once our television set needed some repairs and the mechanic was called. It was a cold winter day and my mother was all bundled up in a cream-coloured shawl.
She was sitting in the bedroom, browsing the newspaper, when the mechanic arrived. He took some time to repair the fault and while he was doing so, my mother served him tea, to which he instantly told my father, "Oh I had just had tea. You shouldn't have bothered Mataji (old lady)." "Mataji? Who mataji? She's my wife!" he said.
On our recent trip to Mumbai, we visited the landmarks of the city in the trademark tourist buses.
I was seated with my mother, while my father was seated along with an elderly gentleman, almost the age of my grandfather. He got into a chat with my father on the course of the journey.
"How many kids do you have?" "Just one daughter," my father said, pointing in my direction. "Is Mataji also along with you?"
"She's my wife." He said, suppressing his laughter at yet another comment on my mother's grey hair.
While people might get offended by such remarks, my mother takes it in her stride. She doesn't let her hair define her age or agility and often pokes fun at people who have lost all their teeth, have skin sagging from every inch of their body, sport thick glasses and yet have their hair coloured charcoal black, as if that could conceal their real age.
She joyfully remarks that she gets respect from everyone, people often mistaking her for a senior lady, and that the colour of her hair had several benefits too.
Once while travelling to Chandigarh, she could not find a seat in the bus. The conductor pointed to a group of boys and said, "Oye, buzurgan nu seat de do (Offer the seat to the elderly)."
My mother was promptly given the seat by an awestruck youngster, who couldn't understand why Mataji just wouldn't stop smiling.
She always gets a seat in the Metro and people step aside to let her get on elevators before they do. She is often mistaken to be a sophisticated army wife, a writer, a professor or a principal, all because of her love for beautiful sarees and the grey hair! Who said ageing wasn't fun?