Slippery slope

As they age, cars start producing squeaks and rattles. For the owner, it is a cause for worry when an unfamiliar noise surfaces. It is an indication something new is starting to misbehave.

Our bodies are no different. We think we are indestructible when we are young. Nothing can or will ever happen to us. Then one day, a warning sign appears out of the blue; in a tennis court, while waking on the road, in the office or just anywhere. The sudden sprain, ache or muscle pull is dismissed as an aberration. We are back in business.

As the problem starts recurring, realization dawns that something is amiss. We are not quite the same as before. Middle age is creeping in. We find we have to strain to read the morning paper. After initial denial, we go to the ophthalmologist. We get our eyes tested and start wearing reading glasses. Our eyes are the first to deteriorate. Fortunately, these days eyewear have become fashion accessories. One can choose spectacles which make us look smarter.

Next, we find our clothes, especially our trousers start becoming tight. We move the belts a notch or two, for comfort. We tuck in the bulging tummy for a while but give up the battle after a while. We console ourselves that we look better than our friend X or Y. Ladies refuse politely when we offer them seats in buses. Young acquaintances start calling us uncle. Policemen look young! We are firmly in middle age now.

Some of us find we have to increase the sound level of the TV set for clarity. The programs in which the subtitles looked intrusive, are now seen as user-friendly. The sad day finally dawns when we visit the ENT specialist asking him to clear the blocks in our ears. He suspects that our hearing acuity has gone down and recommends audiometry. The tests confirm his diagnosis. We have to start using hearing aids.

Unlike reading glasses, which are glamorous fashion accessories, hearing aids are irritating intrusions. They also cost the earth. Even the best distort nature’s sounds. My hearing aid went out of tune once and made all voices sound raspy. When I had the contraption on, Julie Andrews sounded like Satchmo! I had to trade it in for a more expensive model, which still sounded tinny.

The ultimate indignity is when we are congratulated on being ‘well preserved’. I wince whenever anyone pays me that particular compliment. I feel like mango or lime pickle!

(A modern adaptation of the bard’s Seven Ages of Man)

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