The Elixir Of Life


Again a reminiscence. An account on someone. A record of an incident. Of late, I have realized that blogging helps you record and play interesting, accountable and worth-cherishing moments of your life. A virtual camcorder. So allow me to play one of my memories which I had shot years ago. Till this day, it inspires and boosts me up.
I don’t exactly remember the year, but it must be around 2003-04 when we were back from our yearly trip to Shirdi. I always used to fret for the fact that when it comes to travelling, all I get is trips to holy places with companions thrice my age. My mom rebukes at my complaints, ‘consider yourself lucky. You are getting beckoned to such divine places. People rarely get such chances.’
Ok, so there I was sitting with my travel buddies at the railway platform in Manmad. Just then a troop of young men arrived at the station with a racket of senseless laughter and chatter. Not before they started staring at me and my sister (who was mentally and physically challenged, but sure as hell, young), I realized that they aren’t regular rowdies creating a ruckus at the sight of lonely women. They were actually well built, stout, sturdy, pahalwans heading back home after a kushti competition held somewhere in Maharashtra. I ran a mental analysis:
What can they possibly do in broad daylight, in a crowded, busy railway station?
Crowded? Busy? I looked around and counted my messiahs.
Wada pao wala – 1
Sweeper – 1
Beggar – 1
Travel buddies – 15 (age group: 57 – 80, not to mention, two arthritis patients who wouldn’t be able to move even if the train leaves the track and runs after them.)
Well, I could run. The moment I’ll sense danger, I’ll flee as fast as my feet can. But wait. I can’t run away leaving my sister behind.
Although being a Delhi girl, I was trained to tackle such rogues, yet, for the first time in my life, I felt fear. I kept my eyes grounded. And began calling the Gods above for help. And there they were, staring and scanning me with wolf-like eyes. There were around 20 of them, all odd-shaped, with protruding, biceps, triceps, four-ceps … and stuff.
Just then the train arrived. And we all rushed in.
I love coincidences. But not when they seem to tease me. The bogie we were in, got filled with those boisterous boys. The only outsiders were me, my sis and my mom. Wow! Is that what you call an ‘adventure trip’? Must be.
Do you think this is the incidence that inspired me for this post? Hell no! It was just a prologue. Read on…
We swapped our seats with one of the many Uncles (rather Dadu’s) of our group several bogies away. The air seemed moderate here. Apart from us, there was a couple in that compartment. The man looked in his early 50s and the woman just about this. We kept on muttering things in Tamil among ourselves about how they looked, what were they eating, where will we sleep, can we swap seats with them as my sis won’t be able to climb to the upper berth, she needs the lower one, ‘but these two are oldies too, they wouldn’t be able to climb either… etc.
‘Oh sure, we can’, suddenly we heard the woman speak in our tongue. ‘Do you want to swap seats with us. My husband can move up if you want.’ We were dumbstruck. The woman wore a Gujarati sari, was eating khakra, and looked Gujarati or Marwari in every manner.
‘Ohh, we’re sorry. Are you a Tamilian? We thought you are …’
‘No, I am a Gujarati. But can speak Tamil very well. We’ve been down south for a good part of our lives. My husband was posted in Kalpakkam, Department of Atomic Energy, Tamil Nadu. He’s a scientist. It was there I learned to read, write and speak Tamil ’
‘She won Tamil writing competition back 1990’, the man spoke for the first time in an hour.
‘Oh, that’s wonderful. We rarely get to meet such people’ Although we said that out of amazement, we realized that the couple is really rare in their way of living.
We sat there listening to them and watching them do simple stuff in a manner that inspired and pleased us.
‘I got retired a decade ago right on my 60th birthday, and since then we have been travelling all over the country’, said Mr. Usgaonkar as he peeled and cut apple pieces and gave his wife to eat. Wow! I had thought him to be in his 50s and that too early 50s. He’s around 70 years of age.
Mrs Usgaonkar too had a youthful glow on her face, ‘You are coming from Shridi, is it? Lucky you. I keep on telling him to take me to such divine places, but he simply says…
‘Darling, it’s time to be young again. Abhi hamari umar hi kya hai. Tirth karne ke liye to sari umar padi hai. Let us first have fun. We’ll think about washing off our sins later.’ The man intervened like a youthful boy who had just fallen in love with life wishing to celebrate it.
‘We’ve married our kids and both of them are well-settled abroad. Now we are free and every month we are off on an adventure holiday’. The word ‘adventure’ made me shift in my seat.
When it was time to say ‘Good Night’, we watched the man swiftly climbing to the upper berth like an 8 year old boy.
That night, I pondered and realized, how being young at heart makes you really young at age. I can’t foresee what lies ahead, but I promise myself that I’ll never say, I am 60, or I am 65. I’ll rather prefix a word ‘just’ before the numbers.
I am just 60.
How cool is that!

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