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The unreason of age

We spend our lives hostage to the biological count of years. Lena Saha writes.
Hindustan Times | By Lena Saha
UPDATED ON FEB 02, 2012 01:22 AM IST

With the army chief General VK Singh moving the Supreme Court to establish what he regards as his correct date of birth, the issue of age has once again come to the fore. While the general insists that the issue is about his “honour and integrity” and not clinging on to the post, it makes one wonder that maybe age is not just a number; it is often the deciding factor between having and not having something. There is a right age for everything: to learn to talk, walk, go to school, college, get a job. Sometimes, that right age is regulated by law such as being able to drive, vote, get married and drink.

The day the army chief moved the top court, the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) decided to restrict state players from participating in any Twenty20 matches till they turn 21. This, the PCA believes, will strengthen the players’ game in their formative years. Sound decision, but one that is likely to leave the under-21 players upset as they miss out on the glitzy (and lucrative) Twenty20 tournament.

Now, consider the case of our actors. If one were to ask them, “What’s age got to do with it?” they would probably answer: “Everything — the younger the better.” Actors routinely lie about their age, hoping to survive longer in the film industry than it cares to allow. Roles often dry up for leading ladies (well, not for Vidya Balan or Mahie Gill maybe) as soon as they turn 30, making it necessary to resort to falsehood. The leading men have it easier. Not only do they remain popular even over 40, but they actually manage to pull off college student roles (remember Aamir Khan in 3 Idiots?). Of course, cosmetic surgeries play more than a bit role in the process of trying to look young, never mind the pain.

Women, if they happen to be single, worry about their physical appearance and biological clock as they approach 30 or are past that age. A 30-year-old woman may crib about growing old while a teenage girl may think it wonderful to turn 30. In the movie 13 Going On 30, 13-year-old Ginny thinks she will have the best time of her life — both in her professional and love life — when she turns 30. The grass, obviously, is always greener on the other side.

While being young has its benefits and opportunities, sometimes being old enough is just as nice. Some restrictions pertaining to age, though, defy logic and reason. The Maharashtra government’s decision to prohibit anyone under 25 from buying or consuming liquor (the drinking age is 30 years in Wardha district) is one such. This means you can decide who should rule the country at 18, get married at 18 or 21 — depending on whether you are a man or a woman — and be responsible enough to take care of a family, and yet not be old enough to drink. It also implies that the same individual can consume liquor without breaking a law if he is in a state where the age restriction for drinking is lower, but become an offender if he moves to a state like Maharashtra.

Until governments and those in authority realise their folly, those who feel bogged down by age, can take inspiration from Bon Jovi’s song: “It’s my life/It’s now or never/I ain’t gonna live forever/I just wanna live while I am alive”. Rather let the age of reason rule over us, than the unreason of age.

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