When I Think of Aging Beyond the Panorama February 1, 2021

When I Think of Aging

Written by Shania Mathew

For ammachy

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,

Sleeping Pills,

Heating pads,

Tiger Balm,

Overused olay bottles,

Not so stainless steel masala boxes,

Homeo prescriptions,

Pumpkin Seeds,

Flax Seeds,

Chia seeds,

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 f​or ​you anymore.

Refusal of the liver,

The pancreas,

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

Far flung,


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 me

And everyone around us

And all these little Signifiers

Sitting there, waiting to provoke

And poke

and prod

the Signified.

Cuckoo clocks,

Hair dye,

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

Bookmarked Revelation.

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.

Shania Mathew
Shania Mathew

Shania, a Literature student at St. Stephen’s, Delhi University, writes her thoughts and opinions on society, culture, and current affairs.

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