Written by Shania Mathew
When I think of aging,
I think of scrunched up tattoos on scaly skin,
And loose silver hairs intimately ensnaring the bristles of an old hairbrush.
I think of Pancreatin,
Cod Liver Oil Pills,
Overused olay bottles,
Not so stainless steel masala boxes,
And salty pistachios forced down your throat
To the background music of
“It’s good for you”.
When I think of aging I think of responsible visits
To the bank,
To the sick relative at the old age home,
To the car dealership,
To horrifically well-lit trial rooms
That force you to walk out of the store empty-handed,
To the ophthalmologist’s,
To college reunions,
To the second wedding of that month
And the third funeral of this week.
When I think of aging I think of refusal.
Refusal to subscribe to another newspaper,
To another milkman,
To another carpenter,
(even though Johnson from next door gave his word)
And to another recipe book.
It’s a refusal to pick up the monthly call from that old friend or
To that cheeky cousin that made you laugh at family gatherings,
Or to your favourite Uncle from London or
That old lover from college.
All to avoid the ringing rhetoric of Hope-You-Get-Well-Soon
And the sympathy laden enquiries of Are-You-Feeling-Better-Today
It’s the refusal of your body to work for you anymore.
Refusal of the liver,
The sickly bile that’s supposed to do its job And instead hands in that letter of resignation;
Just another effort to withdraw.
When I think of aging i think of a person’s will standing there
On the frontlines, constantly being beaten down.
Where memory wants to bring back the
Days of Elvis cassettes and Connie Francis,
The proud smile after draping the saree you bought with your first paycheck,
The sun from Saudi,
The shells catching dust in the cupboard from Bombay,
The stray dog that walked you back home every night in Delhi,
The dinner parties in Calcutta,
And the breezy nights of Scrabble,
Insulin injected thighs
and lighthouse winks from Cochin.
When I think of aging I think of
The futile alarm clock trying to wake up the
Qualia that has drifted into its
A one way ticket to the abyss
Of Oh-I- Don’t-Recall.
I think of memory’s betrayal
And its dependency to survive,
and feed off of the memories of others With its parasitic charm.
It’s when the First’s are so long gone,
And the Last’s slip by faster than you think; Like silken sand in an hourglass.
When I think of aging I think of you,
And everyone around us
And all these little Signifiers
Sitting there, waiting to provoke
Another gifted Whiskey bottle,
Sitting unopened in the cupboard,
And dust blanketing the cover of the bedside table Bible
With it’s doggy eared Genesis and
Each making its way to the ending of the story.
The last chapter,
The final verse,
The swan song.
I think of the tears from yesterday,
The solidified breath of today
And the sheer unknownness of tomorrow.
When I think of aging I don’t want to think. I don’t need to think
Since every sign of it
Is always around,
Signalling it’s Significance.
Revealing our fixed, finite, fluctuating selves.