I remember reading in a magazine some time ago that every person has a child hidden beneath, coming to think of it the child in me is a little ‘bouncy’. I have reached an age when facilities for senior citizens have opened new vistas of joy for me. The reality check came when I was standing in a queue to get my passport re-issued. The line was getting longer by the minute and as is the rule in our country, ladies with a ‘parchi’ (a piece of paper, probably from someone important, that lets you get away with stuff) were allowed to stand in front of me. An annoying situation but, nothing that I could do about. Suddenly an ‘officer-like’ person came out from behind the counter. He started checking the NICs of the ladies standing in the queue. At this time I thanked Almighty for I had recently celebrated my 60th birthday. The ‘good officer’ told everyone who was less than sixty to leave the line and go to another counter. ‘This,’ he said, ‘was for senior citizens’… There was never a happier moment for me as I stood triumphantly and at least four ladies in front of me left the line.
And yes, I was talking about the ‘bouncy child’ in me, I felt like doing a ‘bhangra’ (Punjab’s cultural dance) to express my jubilation but of course I did not.
My sense of expression of joy is a little different from other oldies… If my knees would allow I would love to run on the wet sands of the Arabian Sea at Clifton, love to buy ‘gola ganda’ from a ‘thela’ and jump at every ‘four’ or ‘sixer’ in a cricket match but the façade of dignity has to be maintained.
Life usually runs smoothly and noiselessly, but sometimes like a remix song it becomes non-rhythmic. The temptation to go out in the rain and enjoy the shower, to sing in tune with the singers at a concert and sway my hands like youngsters with the rhythm of the music is hard to curb.
I love the pranks of young children. I find it very difficult to admonish them on their mischief. One day, I was taking a class in the school, some girls suddenly stood up shouting. They started running around in the class. ‘What happened?’ I asked bewildered. After a lot of disturbance finally the girls settled. One cheeky class fellow had put small grasshoppers and flying insects in their desks and bags. The mastermind of the plot was identified. I had enjoyed the episode thoroughly, but the boy needed some admonition, so I called his father. When the father came, I told him what his ‘boy’ had done. During my narration the man did not lift his eyes, but when he did and our eyes met we both burst out laughing… it was after all an innocent prank and I was having difficulty controlling the bouncy little child in me.
Who says that an impromptu holiday makes only the children happy, whenever such a holiday was announced I always felt like the little child who is handed an ice-lolly against expectations, a wave of happiness filled my heart which I suppressed with an effort… After all a person of my stature can not even smile at such a national catastrophe.
Life is one great competition, victory is inseparable from defeat… the victory of the national Cricket team creates such emotions of joy that nothing less than a joyful ‘ho jamalo’ can express the feelings. When my children were not married and our emotions were on the same frequency, we laughed our belly out on small things in life but with time life has changed. It’s easy to behave one’s age as it is natural, but to hide the child in you and then behave your age is an uphill task.
Children are usually told not to eat too many chocolates or sweets. Mothers keep the boxes of such savories out of their reach. Not that anyone stops me from eating these but to stop my volume from spreading east-west (at this age I cannot grow northwards), I find it very secretive to eat the sweet condiments when no one is around…. Ah the bouncy child in me knows no limits!!!
The writer is a pioneer of two schools and a girls’ college and recently retired as the principal of a prestigious school in Karachi. These days she is contemplating writing down her memoirs.