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The other side of forty

Forty-five and single! What so many books of my youth called ‘the middle aged spinster’. Thought I’d embark on a weekly feature by revealing a few truths about myself..., writes Shernaz Patel.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2009 19:28 IST
Unscripted | Shernaz Patel
Unscripted | Shernaz Patel
Hindustan Times

Thought I’d embark on a weekly feature by revealing a few truths about myself...

Truth One

: I’ve never written an article in print before. The last time I put pen to paper was a sloppy birthday card I wrote to a friend but beyond that nothing. Not even a-letter-to-the-editor kind of thing which brings me logically to

Truth Two

: I’m petrified of writing! But this being my year of doing things that terrify me, I decided to take the plunge.

Why, you may ask, is this year different? Well it’s really because of Truth Three: I turned forty-five this year. And at forty-five, you kind of realise there is no time to waste on silly things like fear.

Forty-five and single! What so many books of my youth called ‘the middle aged spinster’. Back then I used to visualise this tiny woman, with wrinkled hands and large spectacles, sitting on her rocking chair, stroking her cat and sipping tea. Well, come to think of it, my hands have started to wrinkle and I do wear spectacles and I love tea. Sigh!

Forty-five and an actress! Which in Bollywood means you get asked to slap on the white-haired bun and play the hero’s mother, the hero who is usually as old as you. Sigh again!

Strange things started to happen to me ever since I turned forty-five. I began staring at my face in the mirror for wrinkles and buying all kinds of expensive lotions to fool myself that I can stop them. Me, the simple soap and water kind of girl. I even scanned through an ad for botox but better sense prevailed and I quickly turned the page.

I recently snapped at a poor journalist who innocently asked me my age with a ‘How does it matter?’ answer. Me, the normally soft-spoken, congenial interviewee!

I even did a double take the other day when the rickshawallah asked me “Kahaan jaana hai aunty?” Aunty? When did I go from ‘baby’ to ‘didi’ to ‘aunty’? And the thing that perplexed me was that I was dressed in exactly the same way I did when I was twenty. I was still in my usual jeans, T-shirt and chappals and yet. Sigh!

So I am middle-aged for sure, can’t deny it, can’t run away from it. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad as you start going down hill. Like I think I know myself better than I ever did and with that knowledge and acceptance, has come so much peace. Like I can now openly get irritated with fools and liars, especially game players.

Like I know that the friends I have now are my friends for life and when we laugh together and get drunk together or cry together, I am filled with adeep reassurance that they will be there forever.

Like I can say ‘no’ when I mean ‘no’ and not suffer any guilt pangs after. Like I know that the cliché ‘Live like there’s no tomorrow’ is true. And I want to grab people who say they are bored and those who sleep till mid-day and shake them out of their stupor.

Like I can dance with my three year-old niece and my seventy-six year old mum and know that the cycle of life is complete.

Like I can write this article with no fear…and with the child-like excitement of knowing there are so many more such fears to conquer.

First Published: Mar 25, 2009 19:22 IST