I was travelling with my son in the metro. As I saw a person struggling to balance himself with the general swinging of the rail coach. “Come and sit here,” I told him, vacating my seat. Seeing me get up, my son also got up. “Why did you give your seat to him?” son asked. “You see, he is an old man. We must remember, old people have more problems than us. And we must try to assist them, if possible.” The four-year old boy had a close look at the man.
“What is an old man?” he is now, into it. “How do we recognize an old man?”
“Well, son old people walk slowly. Speak in a soft voice. They wear spectacles. Some may use a stick to move around. For example, Dadu is an old man. He wears spectacles.”
That was it. After alighting from the train, he began showing me old people around. “Look! There is an old woman going,” he pointed at a spectacled girl with two braids and a laptop bag on the back.
“She is a school girl.” I tried to correct him.
“I saw an old man trying to hit a cow!” he exclaimed. It was a policeman with a staff trying to shoo away the animal from the road.
I gave up.
I realised that the conventions about branding someone ‘OLD” are all wrong. Spectacles or Walking sticks do not make a person old. All we describe as signs of old age are just the exterior mending on the packing case ie; the body. What makes a person old is when his soul finally gets ready to leave the package. That day has no specified age. It can be well after 100 years.
But, all of us are so myopic in our views that we attach rigid norms on what and what not are associated with ageing. Walking sticks, loose dress, slow gait, may be bit of a stoop, hearing aid….But what about the person? May be I am older than him?
Philosophy apart, can somebody tell me how to make my son understand what old age is?
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