The other day I had gone to the department of orthopaedics at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences. As I waited for my turn on this cold winter morning, I was privy to a lady telling the doctor about her health issues. She took out a smart leather folder from a designer tote bag.
She opened it to reveal all her diagnostic reports, X-rays, medical prescriptions filed neatly and clipped chronologically. As a silent onlooker, I was impressed with her impeccable presentation. Inadvertently my eyes dwelled on her hands.
Her well-manicured fingers, tipped with scarlet red nail paint and a couple of diamond rings spoke volumes of her style and spirit.
Her knuckles were sort of swollen but her nails were the attention grabbers. She spoke impeccably as she explained to the doctor that she had pain in the joints of hands and feet. He said, “Can I see your feet?” “Sure,” she said, as she bent over gracefully to remove her shoes and lacy socks.
From underneath her socks, were revealed a pair of feet that were passionately pedicured; the nails filed to perfect ovals, beautifully painted the same scarlet red to match up with her hands.
Her big toe was swollen and twisted a little to the centre, while the other toes were twisted towards the big toe.
I noticed bunions (a bony bump) on her big toes. The doctor asked, “Madam, you shall have to give up wearing these shoes with pointed toes, for they are squeezing your toes into this unnatural position. “Hmm,” she said, as she proceeded to put on her fancy stockings and slipped her feet into her designer black stilettos embellished with Swarovski crystals. The doctor proceeded to write a prescription for her. “How old are you?” he asked. She looked around before saying cautiously, “I’m 73.”
I smiled as I noticed her endeavour to pose as 37 instead of 73. Her hair was a stellar brown, coloured and styled to perfection by constant grooming. The doctor smiled too and decided not to break her heart. So he drawled, “Well, you can wear them if you want to. But I’m sure you can get designer walking shoes too. Think about it. Have a good day!”
As he dismissed her and I proceeded to occupy the seat she had just vacated, I found myself fumbling for words. Her zest for life had bowled me over. Perhaps it’s the little things in life that we tend to overlook. It’s these that add colour and spice to our lives.
All of us grow old, but what matters is how old we are in the mind. The body shall certainly age as we get on in years.
But the option of smiling through life or whining through it, is wholly and solely in our own hands; or for that matter, in our own minds! Surely, we are as old as we think we are …
As I moved out of the clinic, I caught sight of the lady with the scarlet red nail paint, waiting for her chauffeur to bring her car. She held a cell phone that had probably been launched in the market only a fortnight ago. The cover on it was classy to say the least. Yes, I thought … it’s all about adding life to your years as you add years to your life!
I drove off, resolving to add some fuel to my zest for life. After all, age is just a number, right? And don’t we all want to be high scorers? Come to think of it beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art … the self-practised art of life!
And yes! I have to buy red nail paint today!
The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor (firstname.lastname@example.org)