The wind blew and whisked away a bunch of leaves. A light whistle was heard in the background indicating a drunk pedestrian on the nearby road. I shivered in the cold and opened the rusty door to the ancient store room at my nani’s (grandmother) house. My mind travelled back in time. My nana (grandfather) had passed away a couple of days back. The whole family was in a state of shock. He went away too soon, but left us with ample memories to cherish for the rest of our lives. Of course the void couldn’t be filled by anyone in the family. He had a habit of writing journals. Each day, each page was updated with fresh new experiences of life.
I was jolted back into the reality by a distant voice of my brother shouting. So I looked around and hunted for the diaries. I expected to find fifteen such diaries of the fifteen golden years of his life. I removed a thick layer of dust from an old wooden almirah that looked like an antique. It resembled an old royal chest. I lifted the lid and found the treasured diaries placed in neat stacks inside it. I was apprehensive about reading those diaries first, but the urge to know him better overpowered that thought. So I quietly took all the diaries and climbed up to the first floor. I sat in the corner of the room which was seldom used. The whole room was populated with cob webs.
With trembling hands I opened the first page of the first diary, it read 1995. My nana was an English literature student with an eye for brilliant Hindi shayari. Hence I was hoping for an inspiring read. Pages after pages I read, from one diary to another and time slipped by. I was transported back to the time he was alive.
He was a handsome man working for the Indian Police. He had a million dollar smile that made many hearts melt. He spoke humbly and loved everyone around him. He was a passionate reader of both English as well as Hindi books. Always had a view on everything that was happening around the globe and shared his knowledge with anyone who was ears. He loved to sit in the garden as it brought him closer to nature in the middle of the city. Gardening was one of his hobbies. My nani was inseparable from him and we treasured our old man. Everything was ornate except the fact that he was diagnosed with a chronic disease called Plastic Anemia for the past 17 years. Some poison was slipped in his drink many years back at an official party and from there began his second life that was labored every minute. His pain was immense and we saw him suffer each day for these 17 years.
A tear escaped my eye and I brought my mind to the present. I finished reading all the diaries with patience and encountered between these pages, the most amazing lines I have ever read. His writing was phenomenal but lost in the pages of some unidentified diaries.
After going through the diaries I learned the greatest lesson of my life which I am happy to share with you. Only one thing was prominent in the diaries and that is- “desires are Immortal”. A person’s heart never ages and continues to be young till the time he is on his deathbed. The desires you had when you were 16 and the desires you will have when you turn 70 are quite similar. We overlook the old people’s desires and categorize them as unnecessary but I think it is cruel and a kind of injustice to the people who gave all their life providing you the best of everything.
I peeped inside such a soul and felt an excruciating pain that he suffered through his writing. Don’t you want to look good? Don’t you want the best of dresses? Don’t you want the best of comfort and amenities? Guess what, they also desire all these things, the only difference is that they remain silent and never let you know.
Do you achieve all your desires? Yes
Do you even think of giving the same things to them? No
No matter how wrinkled and tired they look now, their heart is still young and has countless desires which are unsaid. When these people look in the mirror, all they see is an old image of them staring back. If you don’t want to look bad then neither do they. They feel like going to the parties you attend but their physical state kills that desire. But small things make them happy, cook them their favorite dinner, buy them a new dress and tell them about you, your life. Once in a while take them out. Treat them like your friends, they love it! Aging is difficult, so support them.
I lost my nana ji before I could really understand him and provide him with all the happiness he deserved. My family couldn’t fulfill all his desires as he kept them a secret. We never got to know what was going inside that mind. But I know that now. No matter what age a person has reached just remember one thing, his desires are the same as yours. Don’t assume that their tastes and wishes have changed because amusingly they haven’t.
If you are lucky enough to have that ‘special someone’ around you then make their second innings of life the best time of their life. They have done enough for you, it’s time you pay back. Trust me there is no greater feeling than bringing a smile to your old man or woman’s face and see them bless you with all their heart!
I leave with my favorite quote-
The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.