The other day, on my way back home from the gym in a cab, I stopped at a store to buy a bottle of water and some bread. I whipped out my wallet, settled the bill and then walked out. A few nanoseconds later I heard someone call out from behind me. Well he actually puckered his lips and sucked air at me. It was that precise 'kissing the air' noise they make in Mumbai which works like accurate telepathy. In a crowd of a hundred people you know when someone is calling out to you via the tight 'o' formation and air intake through his mid-face orifice. I have tried it myself but it makes me feel like there is electricity passing my lips. (And not in a nice Mills&Boon sort of way.)
Anyways I pivoted around deflty on the balls of my foot (all that gymming) and saw the shop keeper striding over with my wallet, change, bottle of water and bread in his hands. And his lips were recoiling back to their normal state of rest. I smiled at him sheepishly and gladly took back my possessions. And then I walked back to the kerb and took a cab home. A cab, which on later reflection I noted, was not the one I had embarked from the gym in the first place.
As I stood under the shower soaking away the pains from bench-pressing a hundred pounds (by which I mean twenty) it suddenly occured to me that I might be, gasp, GETTING OLD.
I was forgetting things. I sometimes forget what I forgot and sit at home thinking about nothing in particular but feeling very perturbed. After an hour I get up thinking 'What the heck! If I dont remember it probably does not matter!' and decide to go home after one more coffee.
Or something like that.
When does one know when one is getting long in the tooth? When the old cranium is beginning to age a mite? When the youthful period of one's life has, prepare for simile, slowly drawn its way into the slog overs and is beginning to reach for balls clearly way outside off stump only to potter it away to point and not get even a single thus garnering the spectator's hatred?
The realization was all too sudden I tell you. And the realization mightily hit me when my little brother was in town last weekend. He is a full four years younger than me and is still gloating away in his early twenties. Just yesterday he was this little kid running around the house playfully spraying window cleaner into my eyes while I was trying to read a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica with a Letters to Penthouse hidden inside. (Did I tell you that he once got carried away during a wrestling broadcast on TV, bounced around the living room and finally leapt onto me? It ended with the doctors removing an inch long piece of toothpick from my head. This actually happened.) And suddenly today he is urging me to go out and get some fresh air with my friends so he can sit at home and read my copy of Don Quixote but actually polish off my bottle of Smirnoff Green Apple which I keep hidden away in the cupbooard for emergencies.
It is a scary thought you know. That suddenly you are no longer what older people call, with contempt, 'youth'. Thats just completely horrible. For the last ten years or so I have thoroughly enjoyed being 'youth'. I could get away with so much stupidity and people would think nothing of it. They blamed it on my young blood, hot temper and stray pheromones. But today I go to a Vijay Sales and click-twirl away on the Xbox360 for a bit and suddenly they look at me like some out of work middle-aged vagabond who is a singer or writer or something. They walk over and ask: "Gift for someone sir?"
I hate it.
Of course how does it matter to all of you? You all are 'youth'. This is a 'youth hangout' remember. You guys can still wear your ripped jeans and captioned t-shirts and dance to loud music and noone would say a thing. (At worst they would blame your parents. 'Kids today are raised so badly...' the society ladies at the next table would mutter behind their Daiquiris.)
So when does one know when one has finally crossed the merry but perilous chasm of youth and stepped beyond? It is when the drinks don't hit you as much and wine seems like a serious drink? Is it when you look at Sania Mirza and think 'She could be hot when she gets older...' (She will. Trust me on this.) Or is it when you visit a relatives house and the little kids run around you shouting "Sidin uncle Sidin uncle we want chocolate we want chocolate...!" and then leap onto you making you wish you carried window cleaner with you always.
I don't know. All this burden of complete adulthood is too much you know. I don't know if I am ready for it.
You know what? I think I will call this feeling of mine 'Afteryouth'. Yes indeed. Afteryouth. For Men. Between 27 and 30. Not bad eh? Afteryouth is this mellow feeling of being old enough to look at things like this and frown but young enough to still, say, appreciate Eminem or the Pussycat Dolls. (Though I will most probably appreciate them for a long long time to come.)
I like that. So what do you do in your Afteryouth? Tell me. And if you are still in your youth then leave gentle comments will you? We are very sensitive us 'afteryouth types'.
There was another important thing I wanted to talk about. You will not believe this but...