Thursday, 24 November 2011

Resolutions at 60..

The title of my blog is in earthy Punjabi, and defies translation.. 

During Army camps or exercises, we had small `40-pounder' tents as loos. The `loo proper' was a cylindrical hole in the ground about 6 inches in diameter, carefully and neatly dug with a lineman's earth auger. The earth so excavated would be piled loosely close by. After the `act', all one had to do was shove a bit of that loose earth into the hole, thus effectively `covering up' the evidence as well as the odour - a simple enough strategy, and VERY effective!

The Punjabis, as only they can, adopt this simple stratagem as a counter to all life's problems. `Mitti pao', they say, or `forget it, dude - just let it be!'. At 60, it's an effective way - indeed the ONLY way - to chuck all regrets in life, and move on..

The sudden passing away of a course-mate with no previous history or warning signals has brought life into sharp focus. Maybe we are all living on borrowed time - we sexagenarians certainly are, and therefore we need to do a lot of tying up of loose ends.. Yargop was being constantly ribbed about his paunch, and so he, along with his wife Jyotsna, had decided to join a gym. On his first day, he did a gentle workout under the eyes of a trainer, but something gave, and he barely reached home when he collapsed. He had just turned sixty, and there was a lot he was gonna miss out on - playing with his grandchildren, growing old (REALLY old, I mean) with Jyotsna. Was there something he wished he had said to his kids before he went, was there something THEY wished they had told him? Meeting them about ten days later, they were calm and stoic. They had come to terms with their loss, and were ready to get on with life..

So, what are the lessons for the rest of us? 

First and foremost, stop believing that the world will come to a standstill when you're gone. Far from it! Nature abhors a vacuum, and the world has a wonderful way of restoring some equilibrium into everyone's lives. Give it time, and it will be as if you never existed in the first place..  

Second, accept that life doesn't have a Undo key. There's tons of shit piled up in our lives, and no amount of `mitti' can cover it all up. Ok, so you've screwed up big time as a husband, as a dad, as a brother.. You can't go back and make it right, so what does one do? The temptation to `overcompensate' those you have wronged is great, but sadly it doesn't work that way. There will be tons of guilt, some of which, despite your best efforts, you WILL carry to your grave - but try and shed it by now doing what's right. Sincerity of effort is something most people will recognise, and hell, what other options ARE there anyway?

Thirdly, junk all relationships that are not EQUAL. Don't waste time and effort on relationships that offer only crumbs in return. The ONLY relationship that by definition is unequal, is what you have with your children. What you do for them, they will in turn do for THEIR children in a wonderful `pay forward' policy. Do the best you can, and yes, take all the shit they may throw at you - it's just payback for the shit YOU threw at your parents and later at your kids! 

Fourthly - and this is the clincher - accept that you are largely, if not totally, redundant in the lives of your children. The old adage of being the `head of the family' is pure bullshit. Your kids just about `tolerate' you, and that itself is enough to be thankful for. So go easy on the sermons, take a back seat, swallow all the slights (real as well as perceived) and get on with whatever time you have left.. 

Tell your kids you love them - frequently and repeatedly. Hug them at the slightest pretext - believe me, they are all you have left to show for after sixty years of meandering on this planet. Soon you will be nothing but a garlanded picture on the wall, a fading memory in a few hearts. It is nice to think that you made a difference while you were here, but as Ghalib says 'Dil ko behlane ke liye Ghalib, yeh khayaal acchha hai'....