When I was young, I did not understand why old women looked so stressed out and lonely. They had enjoyed their life, hadn’t they? They must have also gone through all the phases of life that I was experiencing at that time. I saw elderly women in my family, in my neighborhood. All they wanted was company, to keep talking about something or the other. They often gave advices that I did not want to take. I was frustrated at their judgmental remarks at times. Why didn’t they see the world from my eyes before talking to me?
When I was young, I couldn’t wait to get into the best university, the one I had aspired to get into since forever. When I did I was elated, so were the elderly women in my family. But there was some sorrow hidden in their eyes when they found out that this meant I was going to go away. Why didn’t they understand, I thought? They too had grabbed all the opportunities that they could when they were young. Why couldn’t they be as excited as I was?
When I was young, I wanted to succeed in building a strong career. That meant that I had to often stay late at work. I wanted to meet all deadlines and be one of the best employees for the people I was reporting to. Of course that meant that I had to miss other commitments. Who wanted to attend tea parties anyway? They had the same old discussions every time. In fact, this was the perfect excuse.
When I was young, I was fortunate enough to find a perfect spouse. I wanted to spend time alone with my partner. I tried my best to somehow avoid gatherings where the entire neighborhood was invited. I didn’t want to keep answering questions that the elderly asked, especially the ones that were centered around my personal life. Didn’t anyone teach them the concept of privacy?
When I was young, my little children were everything for me. They kept me so busy that I didn’t have the time anymore to call distant relatives. For some reason they kept calling me but I was not able to receive their calls. They would obviously understand, I thought. They had all passed through this stage after all. Why don’t they just leave a message then, I often wondered. But then I used to forget; it was difficult keeping so many things on mind with such a demanding life.
When I was young, I was determined to have my own life. I did not want to be so dependent on anyone when I grew old. I planned hobbies for myself; I even made myself financially independent, so that when I grow old, I am not a burden on anyone. I planned everything; nothing could go wrong. I made sure to take some time out for self-care. I did not want to make all the mistakes that the previous generation had made. A little time for myself on a daily basis would guarantee that I am not all worn out when I grow old. I made sure I ate healthy all the time so that my body would not grow so weak so soon.
Now I am old. I often think about the time I spent for my studies. I have the best education that anyone could have dreamt of. Not only did I excel in my studies, but I was also part of majority of the co-curricular activities at my university. My personal relations with other students as well as the professors were outstanding. People with whom I had never talked to before knew me by face and by name.
Now I am old. I often think about the time I spent at work. I have an established career. The number of times I was granted promotions is phenomenal. I even got the award of employee of the month countless times. People used to come to me for advice and to ask for tips on how to progress.
Now I am old. I often think about the time I spent with my husband. My relationship with my spouse is admirable. We are best friends for one another. We have seen ups and downs of life together. I remember all the wonderful times that we had. I also remember all the fights when we were so furious at one another that we thought the fight would never come to an end. But we were able to make our way through the puzzle of life.
Now I am old. I often think about how I raised my children. I was able to fulfill my duties the way I wanted to. I made sure I wouldn’t be a hurdle for my children to accomplish what they wanted to and fulfill their dreams. I got them into the best of universities in different places of the world. I always encouraged them to do whatever it takes in order to succeed.
Now I am old. I often think about all the books and articles I read that emphasized on having such a life that later on there won’t be any regret, all the articles talking about emotional and financial stability. I remember how seriously I took them and how religiously I followed them.
Now I am old. I miss being young. I have led an ideal life. But simpler things carry more meaning to me now. I miss having physical energy and emotional strength. I miss my children. I miss having opportunities to talk to people. I miss their presence. I miss giving suggestions and sharing my opinions. I miss being surrounded by someone all the time. I miss the noise, the chaos, the mess. I am weak and vulnerable now. I am thankful for the life I have had. But I still feel insecure now. I feel unwanted now. I miss people depending on me instead of me depending on them. I miss being able to find words to share my feelings with the people around. So I sit here, sipping my tea as usual, and sharing my feelings with a paper and a pen.