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Growing old: Is age only a number?

June 03, 2012

Every time I am coerced into cutting my birthday cake a stream of tears start pouring from my eyes. Holding the knife meant for cutting the cake is just a trigger for the flood to start no matter how cheerful a mood I am in.

Once I was old enough to speak my mind I just told everyone it’s better to stop cutting cakes in order to kill the habit.

Twenty odd years later my daughter is born with the same hereditary trait, crying when any cake is cut and the birthday song is sung. I kept celebrating her birthdays since I didn’t want her to have the problem I still had and thankfully, four years later she is happy to go to birthdays and is thrilled to celebrate her own.

Thinking about it more deeply, I realised I did have an issue with growing a year older and it probably grew after I turned 20. Every time someone asked me my age I would rather not tell, even though I always get the same response — that I look much younger than my age, I don’t look married or that I don’t look like a mother. Somehow such comments fail to appease me because on the inside I ‘am’ that old, I am married and I do have a child.

My body too keeps giving me signals that remind me how old I am. Being active all day is sure to result in backache at night; any unexpected activity or too much commotion during the day is sure to give me a headache. Previously, hectic school, tuition and college schedules never used to make my head hurt this easily. Sitting down with my niece and nephew to explain a maths problem makes me feel ancient; it all seems too easy and I can’t even remember which grade I did it in.

Age is by no means a number in itself. It carries with it the weight of the experiences we have had over the years. The joys and tribulations which have marked our way till present and the wisdom we have because of them. At the end of a birthday we all do look back and wonder how this year was better or worse than the last and we welcome all the blessings we receive from our friends and family and look forward to having “…many more”. As for me I just look around to make sure there is no cake I have to cut before the clock strikes twelve and I’m safely into the next day!