Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bayelsa Books and Craft Fair...

Yes, it got off to a good start.... and the timing was appropriate, as rich tributes were paid to one of the greatest writers of our time ...'' Remembering Achebe'' attracted several admirers, and even though there were a few glitches, the Fair was declared a hit by writers and artists. Next year promises to be bigger and better. Way to go, Onyeka and Peace..
                                                                          ***************

This appeared in The Week....
                                           Life begins at 8o…!
“I want to live my life in a fully ‘bindaas’ way …” This is not a statement made by a sexy Bollywood starlet, but by a lady who is well into her eighties. She lives in the locality and we share a masseuse.  The big difference being that the common maalishwalla is booked by me just once a week for a Sunday massage. It is the one weekly indulgence I greatly look forward to.  But the octogenarian widow is so hooked on the masseuse’s magic fingers, she uses her expert services for two leisurely hours, 365 days of the year, starting as early as 5.30 a.m. And mind you, this is not a therapeutic massage intended to provide relief to arthritic joins. It is  more a relaxing pummeling of tired muscles, designed to take care of urban stress . But for the merry widow, it is what kick starts her busy day. Once she is done with the pampering in a special Spa-style room in her luxury apartment (complete with aroma candles and lounge music), the lady hits her home gym, works out with a personal trainer, and plans lunch at her favourite restaurant or club. Her wardrobe is contemporary and expensive. She has several fashion designers at her beck and call, and prefers her outfits customized. Her salon treatments ( hair, facials, nails) take up the rest of the afternoon… and then it’s time for an evening aperitif and dinner. You may be wondering where the family fits in? Aha! It doesn’t! This is the interesting part.
Soon after her businessman husband died, leaving a substantial portion of his wealth to his widow, their three sons decided to claim what they believed was rightfully their share (over and above what the Will stated). From this point on, the story follows a predictable track – haughty daughters-in-law demanding more and more and more, with the bullying sons exerting enormous pressure on the old girl to sell the spacious flat and move into a small apartment. To her credit, she flatly refused to buckle, arguing it was her late husband’s wish to see her live well and enjoy his money till the very end. And that was that! The miffed sons promptly broke off further contact with their old mother once they discovered she wouldn’t play ball and pay up.On her part, she decided to reorganize her schedule, rejig her priorities and enjoy her life to the hilt on her own. Today, she has a support system of close friends, a couple of neighbours who look out for her, and of course, family retainers to take care of creature comforts. She is cheerful and full of enthusiasm as she plans short travels to hill stations and pilgrimage destinations across India. She looks no more than 65, with  good skin, her own teeth and long hair. She knows her sons are waiting for her to die before they swoop down and grab everything in sight. Perhaps, what they haven’t factored in so far, is their mother’s will power. She has seen through their selfishness and avarice. Here’s a lady who also makes time to educate girls from under privileged backgrounds. She may also have ear marked money for various  other charities she supports. Since she relies on the kindness of strangers, who knows, some fortunate ‘ajnabi’ may be at the receiving end of her generosity. But till the time for her to say ‘adieu’ to the world comes, she is making the most of her privileges. Like several widows I know in the city, she has come into her own after her husband’s death.  She also has the wisdom to recognize the futility of keeping up appearances. If her sons have abandoned her, so be it. She will not resort to martyrdom or victimhood in order to conform to society’s fake expectations. Boldly and bravely, she is going it alone. In an environment that is increasingly materialistic and openly hostile to senior citizens (“Why do these oldies have to live forever….?”), here is a gutsy woman who refuses to slip away quietly or surrender her rights. I love her for loving life! For not giving up on herself. For deciding to live on her own terms. There is no time to brood or dwell on depressing family truths. She has sensibly eliminated such toxins from her life. It’s a pity these ‘toxins’ happen to be her flesh and blood. I thought of   her before falling asleep last night. My dreams were indeed pleasant. And I woke up with a smile! May she rock on!

11 comments:

Ambika said...

HUGS for the lady. And, yes, may she continue to rock and roll! Lovely piece...Now we know how to shine during our twilight years!

Pooja Rathore said...

smart bindaas and for sure she loves herself a lot ..wishing her the very best of everything!
nice and inspiring post,i loved the line...not giving up on herself...so true ...life is full of challenges fight until death(your positive words i remember when things are not going my way).

Tsomo85 said...

Totally my kind of lady! Yayyyyyy for her!
:) I'm happy that the word "gift" still exist and of course that too can be practiced only---->mutually!!! Expecting wealth from others sounds so depressing!!! No matter what, even if it's from your own parents. It's like "smile" if you get any or else buzz off!

Tsomo85 said...

Sometimes it can be the other way round too. Like if father dies when kids are very very young and the widow mother can be extremely vulnerable!!!! That too when the young kids had been away from home for long time. And if either you or my mom had fall for fake strangers, it would definitely boil my blood!!!! So!!!!! Life is full of surprise in many demential so let's just hope for the bestttttt!

Gaurav said...

wow!..very inspiring article..i m only 34 and single and w.out any family...at times I feel a bit sad becoz of my single status...i shud def start to value life more...

Tsomo85 said...

Ops! I meant "dimensional" sorry about the error!

Deeksha said...

A great story Shobhaji.Wish u had shared a photo of this incredible octogenerian .Hats off to u both!

Arshad Usmani said...

Well said we should live life to the fullest, balls to the walls. I always wait for your next post as you write so good.

Unknown said...

Hats off to the lady. We need more such senior citizens.

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Aditya said...

Nice Article
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