“You are an old soul in a young body,” a friend of mine, once told me. I smiled and felt so happy about it. I should’ve frowned and maybe, retorted with some witty comebacks but it took me a second or two longer to gain composure. I was so delighted at being seen like that. There’s a reason to it, of course.
I love Old people (people who are 70 plus). When I go out for walks, I look forward to seeing two kinds of people - really young kids who’ve just realised that the world is their playground and the veterans whose greys are a reminder of how they stood the test of time.
Old people have an air around them which makes you see the world differently. They have a caution in each step that they take, with or without their walking stick. They take each step with a kind of worn down temperament as if they know where this step is taking them and yet, they are being cautious not because they are afraid of falling but because they know they can fall. They aren’t afraid of the fall. They accept it.
They smell different… of soap, cologne and old people scent. If you catch a glimpse of their eyes, you see a touch of greyness in their pupils. You dare to peek a second longer and again, the weariness becomes so evident. Those eyes have seen so much and with them they carry years of memories which keep fading away each day. They may not remember the memory but each memory adds a wrinkle to their skin. Each memory gets erased and is replaced with a grey hair.
It’s easy to make a toddler laugh. But when you make them laugh, it’s a moment to be treasured. They’ve seen enough to sap them of humour but they smile (not smirk). They laugh in those little smiles. It’s priceless.
I go to this temple in my locality sometimes. I’m not very religious and back at home, my parents are pretty liberal. On evenings when I want some peace, I go to this place and do the regular rituals. Give my greetings to the deities that are dressed so lavishly and then I sit at the benches placed in the temple’s compound. I never see people of my age there. Only old people go to temples, right?
They look at me with curious eyes. They wonder why I’m there when I should be immersed in a busy city life. But then I sit and close my eyes. I sit and listen to the mynahs sing. I sit and listen to the harmonies they chant. I sit and keep looking at the group of grannies making garlands. And, they know why I’m there.
We never talk but they make me feel like family. I love old people. They make me hope and believe that one day I’ll be old like them too and I’d have lived.
They make me believe that the dusk is as beautiful as the dawn.