In many cultures and particularly in mine, people often bless you with age. “Have a long, happy life.” “Live to a 100″… Michael Jackson and Tilahun Gesese wanted to live past a hundred. Most people fear death or perhaps it’s the afterlife. But in my mind, life as an old person is much much scarier.You’re going back to being a child after you have lost all your innocence. You know how the world works; the cheats, the wars, the poverty and everything and you’re going back to a mindset where you can do nothing about it once again. Your bones are weak and you need assistance to do the most minor things such as tying your shoe or even getting up. You’re taking up somebody’s time every time you need to do something and in order not to bother those people that you love, you end up not wanting to ask for help and therefore just sitting there, not doing anything, just existing feeling like a burden to others.
And then there’s the old age illness. The friction in your joints every time you move and you watch your teeth rot and fall out until one day you see that you can’t bite into anything. Then you’re reduced to soft foods and you envy the crunch in your children’s mouths at meal time.
Your beauty and your strength slowly leave you body day after day and you watch you daughter, clad in make up and her hips holding strong, flipping her hair at her suitor and your heart beats just a little faster for her. You watch your son running strong and kicking hard and you wish you could run and kick with him like the old days. Every little thing sets you off and although you want to be happy about your children and grandchildren, you just can’t match their enthusiasm all the time and it pisses you off when they don’t understand that.
Time after time everything loses its taste for you because you’re either too confined or too tired to see it and you feel the inevitable death coming nearer and you start to wonder whether you’ve lived life right and are ready to go and for all those regrets you spend your days mulling over, it’s past time and there is nothing you can do about them. It breaks your heart.
And the you live and live and live until one day you start to forget people and places and you start to notice people get tired of your stories but you don’t know that you’ve been telling the same ones over and over. You see sad strangers everywhere instead of your children and you try to go home but you find yourself somewhere else. You’ll feel abandoned and nervous as though you’ve moved to an alien place.
Then one day, you’ll pray for death and it will not disappoint. You’ll fall from the stairs or choke on your food or fall terminally ill or just go lights out while you’re sitting there in one of your monotonous daily routines.
Family and friends will cry but they will not be very sad that you’re gone because you are old and should have been finished living your life by now.
So long life…curse or blessing?