The other day, I ran across an old friend, a charming elderly gentleman, who is well known for his charm and impeccable manners. I happened to ask him about his aches and pains. "Oh, there are so many that if we start talking about them, it will take all day," he said, waving it away with a smile.
"What an elegant attitude," I thought to myself.
I was reminded about aches and pains again when I decided one evening to revisit a memory from Moscow, and brought up a YouTube video of Georgian dancers.
The dancers were as spectacular as I remembered. They flew across the stage in great leaps, danced on their haunches, launched themselves into the air, glided in circles and twirled at high speed; and watching all of that made me quite dizzy.
It also made my knees ache, until I remembered that the young, and especially professional dancers, can do physically taxing things for hours on end without passing out, and can get out of bed the next day, and do it all over again.
We can all look back fondly to the good old days, and a time when we thought nothing of kneeling and picking things up from the floor, or getting the cheapest items out of the lowest shelves in the supermarket quite effortlessly. We could sit on very low couches without needing someone to help us get up, and we never minded sitting on the floor —even in saris— because we were able to rise gracefully without getting tangled up in six yards of silk.
But bodies change. One day, we hear that person X, who is fifty, has had a hip replacement. I exclaim "What on earth! He/she is so young!" And then we hear other similar tales: a broken ankle, a frozen shoulder, a keyhole surgery here or there.
High-impact cardio and jogging have to be discarded in favour of yoga, and long walks in the park, while eighteen holes of golf have to be reduced to nine. So, the joints have been taken care of, but the tummy suddenly makes an appearance. What was neat and flat suddenly changes. Images of our lost youth and slimness flash before our eyes as we discover that the cakes and cookies, biriyani and kabab now bypass the digestive system entirely, and go directly to the midriff and hips, and settle there, un-invited. We take on new curves and dimples, which once prompted one of my Sylheti girlfriends to say affectionately, "Otho maya laagey dekhiya."
Our plumpness, though loveable, is bad, both for the knees and the morale, so the desserts and kababs have to be abandoned. There is always a silver lining for every cloud, however. Better nutrition in our generation enables us to retain our good health, physical strength and mobility for longer. We can walk farther, travel more, and enjoy greater longevity than our parents' generation. The moral here is that our bones, joints, and bodies must be loved, respected and cherished, as carefully as any good marriage and/or a healthy bank account.