Saturday, July 31, 2010

Forty Blues

June 19th 2010---You must be wondering what is special about this date. All Congress Party people will remember June 19th since it is Rahul Gandhi's birthday. Yes I was also born on the same day. Till this year all my birthdays were welcomed by me with enthusiasm and happiness. First time this year I felt that the day should not have come. Reason behind was that I turned 40. I was in my parent's place on that day. As usual my parents were the first to wish me early in the morning. I had to wake my children to get their wishes. My better half called me and wished me saying "Happy Birthday Old Lady". I retaliated to him saying that if I was old then he who was older to me was also an old man. The day went off as usual with phone calls reminding me that I was 40 years old. We spent the evening in my sister's house. My brother in law had gotten me a cake with the number 40 on it.....adding fuel to the fire. My girl gave me a card saying "Though you are 40 you are not a "paatti"(paatti in tamil means grandma). My niece gave me a card saying,"Though you are 40 you are a smarty". My son who couldn't write any such rhyming words filled up the card with the number 40 ,written at least 40 times. Though I was trying to forget that I was stepping into my middle age everyone around me were buzzing the same number into my ears. Other than to my parents to everyone else my age was visible. Why is 40 such a threatening age????

"Don't ask a man about his salary and a woman about her age" ......this is universally true. Till 39 you are not reluctant to admit what your age is. But when you strike 40 there is a slight pause when somebody asks about your age. You don't want to be classified into the middle age group. Physically, emotionally I am undergoing a lot of changes all of a sudden. When I complain to my dad about all my physical pain he says after 40 you cannot expect to live without any pain. Coming to the physical change first, I feel I am getting tired faster these days. I am taking extra half hour to finish the work which I used to complete in one hour. Is this because of the physical tiredness or because my mind is pre-occupied with something always? I usually love to go out , shop, and have fun. These days I feel it is better to stay at home indoors rather than go out. I started liking my loneliness. This doesn't mean I am depressed though the word depression is used quite often by me these days. I want to do things in my own pace and convenience. I used to love ice-creams and pastries. Even now my taste buds want to relish on them but my digestive system is not on par with my taste buds.

The major hit is on my sleeping pattern. 7 hours of sleep is a rare occurrence. Though I know 8 hours of sleep is vital for everyone, still I come up with some excuse everyday . My husband says ,"after we all go why don't you sleep during the day?" A valid point but the problem is if I sleep during the day then my sleep in the night gets totally screwed up. If I were a film director I could shoot a full movie every night with my lengthy dreams. Is this because I think a lot ?? I want to keep myself fit and healthy. For this I know exercise is the only way. I keep encouraging myself to exercise everyday but here again I come up with excuses. Anyways excuses and advice are always free of cost. When I see youngsters jog and go to the gym I get motivated but it stops just with the motivation. No further steps taken ahead. I cannot jog along with them --my pace is slow now. I don't want to accompany them to the gym either because I get demotivated when I realize the truth that I cannot workout for more than 45 minutes (including the breaks taken) while they workout for one and half hours. My age speaks through my body.

Emotionally also there are a lot of changes. You seek for attention. Since the children are somewhat ?? independent you feel nobody comes to you for anything other than food and clean up work. Since I am 24/7 home-maker I feel my whole life is like "Kitchen is my Tirupathy and my husband is my God".(don't let your imagination fly too high) . You expect your husband to spend at least ten minutes in a day alone with you without the nagging of the children. The conversation should solely be centered around you. Contrary to your expectations every husband's world is centered around the laptop. My daughter asked me "how come mama you married papa ,who looks like he has tied the knot around the laptop? Off late I feel the conversation between my husband and me centers only about our children. Other than that we don't have anything to talk in common. May be we are getting bored with each others' company????.(my husband must be very happy when he comes to know that I have understood the truth). Or that we don't have any topic of common interest.

I usually tell my friends that as we get older and when the kids move out we should have an arrangement in such a way that all men should live in hostel and all women in one. We should meet on weekends. Then there will be less expectations and more love. And most of my friends accept this brilliant idea of mine. Off late I hardly take any steps to build up any new friendship other than maintaining the existing ones. When your children are young and small you are able to make friends with anybody easily. Then, the priority is based on your children's needs. When they are grown up and have their own choice of friends you become too selective. You are reluctant to get closer to anyone. To strike a common cord with someone becomes very difficult. As we grow older I feel we become more egoistical. We draw a circle around us and are very very selective in letting new people inside.

These days when I see my daughter who is in her teens I feel like going back to that age. I wish to dress up like her so that I would look young. But the irony is that the clothes look hip and I look old. Your mind frame refuses to accept the truth that you cannot look young just by wearing ultra modern clothes. Even when I wear a fashionable ear-ring my daughter comes up and tells me "mama u better change it. You look childish." They want us to look like mama not like their sister at the same time fashionable aslo. But when we give them a piece of advice which they don't want to accept then they come up with "generation gap theory."

My mind goes faster than my body. Though I pretend to look young and act young my actions and reactions to the happenings around me are always in respect to my age. As you get older they say your mind should also mature. You should be able to accept things easily. My temper gets triggered very easily. But I have learnt to blame it on my hormonal changes. I realize my tolerance level with the kids is also deteriorating. Is this because they don't listen to me or that I am not COOL as they say. I don't want them to be behind me calling me "mama,mama" all the time. I expect them to be like robots and follow my instructions when I say something---(most of the time I call myself a machine, who does the same monotonous routine). No one understands my pains and expectations. Quite often I think that whether I am there or not it is the same for everyone in my family. My presence is not indispensible anymore. I think a lot about the day when my children will all fnish their studies and settle in their life.(though I haven't settled in a place yet). I need a time machine to go forward. I want to be free of all responsibilities.

I don't understand how cleanliness and age are related. As you grow older you should be able to compromise on many things. For me I am not able to compromise on the cleanliness. I have become a cleanliness freak. When I was in my sister's house I started cleaning up her closets. She insisted that I should take rest at least when I was there. Seeing me doing the cleaning work with so much involvement she told me that I could start a cleaning agency. This is how you get rewarded when you try to help voluntarily? "Wash your hands with soap, leave the bathrooms clean, clean up your room" these are my everyday slokas recited (in fact screaming) to all the members of my family. The effect is that they get very angry . But don't ever imagine that since they get angry they will follow my instructions. No not at all. I keep screaming without anyone to heed to my words. They all look at me as if something is wrong with me. I am always the odd one out. To them I am like "who is the black sheep?"

All of a sudden life seems to be toooo boring. I feel like I have nothing to do. Nothing exciting . It is the monotonous way of life. My mind keeps insisting that I should do something productive and be recognized. But what is it I don't know. All these years I haven't worked Now if I wish to start a career who is going to offer me a job? First of all I don't know what my expectations are. What is it I am looking for? What do I really want to do? One day I feel like working next day I feel it is better to stay at home and take care of the family. I feel without me even a single molecule in the house won't move--what kind of self confidence? My children want me to work. But they don't want to do anything on their own. I know that I cannot cope up with external as well as internal pressure. Hence I chose to stay at home. The very thought of going out and then coming back and doing the household chores tires me mentally. My husband suggested that I should go for some music lessons to divert myself from all kinds of unwanted thinking. But I think that instead of me going for some class I can join my children in some extra class. Why waste money unnecessarily on myself ,who is at home. I am losing my self confidence slowly.

I wonder how some people can watch tv for hours together. I don't have the patience to watch tv for hours. I need some kind of noise in the house just to make myself feel that someone else is also in the house. So I switch on the radio or tv. I watch very selective movies. I remember those days when I used to be addicted to TV. TV was so magnetic. Even when it was switched off I would just see my reflection on the screen. Now the fascination has gone. To while away the time how long can one watch tv or read books or browse the computer? I don't want to go out, I don't want to meet anyone new , I don't want to go for any class, I don't want to cook and clean, or read books or watch tv, then what is it I want to do ? I am searching for an answer for my search! I am not very phylosophical to say that I am searching for my inner- self or that I am trying to find out who I am, why I came into this Earth , or what is the purpose of my life ? I know that I am an ordinary human being who is going through a tough phase in life--midage crisis.

One thing I feel nice is to talk about nostalgic memories. I wish to meet up with my old friends. When we are in our twenties we don't bother to meet up with our college or school friends. But when you reach your middle age you want to have a get together with your old folks. You want to know how they look, how they are, how is their family and you want to share those old sweet memories. Though the present life is also equally valuable you always tend to value high the things which are out of reach or far away. This present will also become a past. Still the memories which are attached to our childhood and college days are much more interesting. They always stand close to our heart.. When you meet your old friends there is no comparison of age, you still feel young. We all will fall under the same category and we feel like sailing in the same boat. Our children will be more or less of the same age. So we have common things to discuss about. Nothing like talking about the good old days.

All these years I have been outside India. Now I feel that I should spend time with my parents who are getting old. When I think about my age automatically I think about them. That gives a sense of explainable ,uncomfortable pain at the bottom of my heart. I feel that it is high time I give back the love I owe them. All these years my life has been centered around my family. There is a sense of guilt that I haven't done enough for my parents. It is how I reciprocate to my parents that my children are going to do to me in future. By middle age you feel that you have to settle in a place. You wish to have your own house and settle there. This feeling gives you a sense of security. There is nothing like a place to call your own. Once you are settled in a place you don't want to move. Your comfort zone is fixed within that territory. Physically also it is not that easy to keep moving from place to place after certain age. It tires you out. Also,emotionally you develop an attachment to the place you have lived for long. All the enthusiasm for adventure starts to decline from 40. You are ready to take any kind of risk till 35. After that you start loosing interest in venturing into new things in life. Your life is centered only around your children. All you think about is their comfort, their well-being, their studies etc. All the decisions taken thereafter centres around the children's likes and dislikes.

The only place I feel peaceful is the temple. I can spend long hours inside a temple. I can sit mind-blank. It rejuvanates me. To pamper myself I do go out every week and buy something for myself. That thrill lasts only for two days. Then again the routine questioning of what do I do now? Why is life so boring? What can I do? Should I start working or not ? Should I study something? What have I done all these years of my married life? the indefinite questions echo in my ears continuously. I know I have to sail through this storm just like every other woman. This is the second chapter of my life and I pray God that he should help me trail along this path with ease. I am longing for not a life of luxury but a self-- contended life. I wish the same for all the women who are going through this crisis. Hand in hand we can walk with hope and strength.


Thekkikattan|தெகா said...

:)) I cant believe you rambled such a way about stepping onto 40. You make us all to feel we are also in your group... Forty is still young and just like in 30s - cheer up!!

Geetha Ravichandran said...

Thekkitattan-- Tks for ur comments.

Anonymous said...


Happy Forty's from now on. we all have different ways of reacting to the "magic number", go after all the things you always wanted to do- I am sure you will love r forties period.


priya.r said...

Good Article.,

Now only i came to know these type of issuses will face in forthcoming years.,

Thanks for providing us these type of social awareness article with nice presentation.

//I wish the same for all the women who are going through this crisis. Hand in hand we can walk with hope and strength//

Thanks.I also hope so.,

Belated Happy Birth Day Geetha

Geetha Ravichandran said...

Priya-- Thanks for the wishesand for visiting my blog. Thinking of translating it into Tamil sometime soon.

priya.r said...

ஆமாம் கீதா .,நானும் அதையே சொல்ல நினைத்து இருந்தேன்
இன்னும் நிறைய பேர் தெரிந்து கொள்ள வசதியாக இருக்கும் .

எனது தோழிகள், வலை தோழிகளிடம் உங்கள் "அனுபவம்"
பற்றி சொல்லி இருக்கிறேன்.
புதிதாக தமிழில் எழுதும் தோழிகளுக்கு பிழை திருத்தும் செய்து
கொடுத்து கொண்டு இருக்கிறேன் .

உங்கள் தமிழ் எழுத்துகளும் நன்றாக இருக்கிறது ;சொல்ல கூடிய
விசயங்களும் பயனுள்ளதாக இருக்கிறது
நிறைய எழுத வாழ்த்துக்கள் கீதா.,

Kalidoss said...

Your article is really thought provoking..but is it not too early to think like suggestion is prepare a wish list of your yearnings,things you had dreamt,the possible and feasible..keep it aside and go thru at your own phase and will definitely realise your hearts throngings..cheer up and move ahead get going....kalidoss

Geetha Ravichandran said...

Kalidoss---Thank u very much for ur suggestions. Will surely try them.

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