I looked at Saima’s annoyed face with amusement. “And what was so wrong if the salesman called you Khalaji?” I asked her in a teasing tone. Last week I had gone for shopping when I ran into an old college friend. We hadn’t met for ages, (both of us busy with our homes and kids), although we remained in touch on the phone. I invited Saima for some refreshments so that we could chat for a while before parting ways. “Just one last suit”, Saima said, “I saw a lovely print in that shop’. She asked the young salesman to show her the suit. “Eik minute Khalaji”,the poor boy replied, having no idea what wrath he was about to incur on himself! Saima gave him a glaring look, turned around and angrily marched out of the shop. “Why Saima, didn’t you say that you wanted to buy that suit?” I asked her in surprise. “Silly man, how dare he call me Khalaji, do I look like a Khalaji?” Saima quipped back in an annoyed tone. Dear Saima! She was always so concerned about her looks in college days.
It is a natural desire of every woman to look young and beautiful and the search for the fountain of eternal youth is universal. We are living in a world which places a great importance on looks, and everywhere around us, we find women striving hard to look younger than their years. Cosmetic surgeries, botox injections and lipo-suctions are becoming common with those who can afford them. Those who can not afford these luxuries go for cheaper options like anti-aging creams and lotions and frequent visits to the beautician. But is this war against nature’s course worth fighting? I believe that however hard we fight, in the end we are always the losers, because we can push back the years but can not avoid them totally. They come back to attack in a more vicious way, so isn’t it a netter option make age a friend instead of an enemy and grow old with grace?
Old age has always been associated with ugliness; it is hard for women to perceive that they can be old and beautiful at the same time! Sometimes the quest for youth lures them to make wrong decisions, going for options which are theirs no more. The wrong choice of dresses, colors and jewellery, that hairdo which makes them look funny (instead of a few years younger) and the bright makeup which should be done no more, are all part of a war they are losing. The key to aging with grace is to explore the options which compliment one’s looks in spite of the years, enhance the strong points and conceal the weak ones.
When I started to dye my graying hair I opted for a soft brown shade, (which blended well with the signs of age showing on my face), instead of a jet black one. Slowly and silently I changed the colors of my wardrobe, choosing softer and lighter shades instead of the brighter ones which I once loved to wear. Pink, red, turquoise and purple were out and in came grey, soft shades of green and blue, beige and off white! Gone were the long and dangling earrings, the trendy hair styles and dark shades of lipsticks. I was content to age with grace, to be myself; at least if I did not look younger than my years, I also didn’t look older than my age.
These and many other thoughts were going through my mind as I sat sipping juice with Saima. Suddenly she spoke up sharply, “I feel you are not taking care of your looks, the same careless approach you always had, you always came to college with your hair oiled and tightly braided” she had not forgotten (and forgiven) my crime! “So what do you think I should do to hide my age? I love it when my grand children call me Grandma”. I replied in a careless tone.
Not heeding to my words, Saima examined me with a microscopic look in her eyes. “I see lines on your forehead and wrinkles have started to appear beneath your eyes”, she said disapprovingly (as if I had committed a great offense). “Haven’t you been using the anti aging crèmes and lotions which are so popular these days? They do wonders to your skin.” She pushed back her chair suddenly, “Come with me, the shop from which I purchase cosmetics is nearby, you have to get it now because I know how lazy and careless you are and you would never buy them yourself.”
Nearly shoving me inside her favorite cosmetics shop, Saima asked the salesman for the magic lotion. He appeared promptly with a tiny jar. “How much does it cost?” I asked him cautiously. “Only Eighteen hundred, Baji, (this one was clever enough not to call me Khalaji), but in a month you will look ten years younger,” the salesman replied in a luring tone. “Eighteen hundred for this tiny bottle! My God!” I nearly dropped the bottle on the glass counter, “I would rather look my age, be called Khalaji and wear grey with grace”. Chuckling to myself, I marched out of the shop not stopping to look at the surprised faces of Saima and the salesman.