Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Being Old and Feeling Old

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Being Old and Feeling Old

The quality of being jolly or jollityin one's personality has been compared to a glass full of water. When a person is born, this glass is full of water of jollity or naughtiness. But this glass has a small crack in its bottom from which this sweet water keeps dripping and with the passage of time, amount of liquid in glass keeps decreasing and when one gets old, this glass is found to be empty.

We see that children are the most jolly and jubilant among all the age groups. They laugh on small things and sometimes laugh so much that one who sees them laughing starts laughing as well. It is because it is the age when glass of jollity is full of water and when a glass full of water jolts or sways from one side to another, water in it splashes and hits the sides of glass or at times overflows from its banks.

When a person reaches to his teen age, the glass still contains a lot of water but a small portion of it is emptied and thus we see that teenagers are also very naughty and too much active in inventing jokes or giving out the roars of laughter but however, their witty character is less than that of children who are at times found laughing on something even after hours of its occurrence.

Gradually, the more you grow, the more water flows down the glass and the more you lose your character of laughing or being witty and jolly. Portion of water in glass keeps decreasing and the empty space keeps increasing but according to a law of science, an empty space never exists and it has to be occupied by something. Similarly, when the glass of jollity is partly emptied, its empty portion is occupied by seriousness or sobriety. With the passage of time, jollity decreases and seriousness increases until in one's old age, all the water finishes and glass is completely occupied by the seriousness and we witness that old or aged people are mostly found to be serious and however interesting joke or tale you tell, they show their interest by giving a faint smile.

More serious and alarming situation comes when one sees that a child is found to be too much silent and an old man is found to be laughing too often. If we do a thorough investigation of this situation, any serious emotional or psychological disorder might be discovered.

At times, elders get irritated from the excessive movement or activeness of the children or the jolly moods and acts of youngsters. As it comes out, it is natural and when the age will come, they will definitely acquire the seriousness needed to face the challenges of the practical life. Other than this, unnecessary seriousness is what I myself personally don't like or recommend.

Many years back, I had a responsibility to bring the objects of the shop early in the morning. This routine was non-stop and continued without any consideration of the weather or occasion. Almost every day I noticed an old and weak person walking on the road. He couldn't walk very properly and exerted a great deal of pressure on his stick while walking. His pace was very slow and took his every next step very slowly and faintly. I noticed him walking even in cold winter mornings and I felt a cordial sympathy to his pitiful condition. Later on, I discovered that he used to walk to the shop from his house and he always refused to take any kind of assistance from his sons, who wanted to carry him by a car or accompany him on foot.

The problem of this old man was very much cleared by another example when an old man used to go to his shop without any break, be it cold or hot. Though he was also weak and old and his financial position did not demand any work or income from him either but he had another problem. Whenever he stayed at home, he used to disturb the rest of the members of family so much that family members prayed for his departure to shop in the earliest and the disturbance he created also made realize that it was in the best interest of both the parties that he should hurry to the shop the next day. These two are samples from numerous other of our old citizens who have problems in getting adjusted to the routine and processes of daily life at home.

When he stays at home, he notices so many things going on wrong in the house. The broken tap, the trash in kitchen, TV which has been turned ON but without any viewer and even the door which has been left open does not escape his sharp notice and these and numerous other small problems make his temper shoot up.

He would criticize the children for making much noise and playing inside the room, would scold the females for using excessive gas or leaving the water tap open in kitchen, would shout on neighbors for their disturbing and loud music and the house that used to float smoothly through all the activities in other days, gives the view of a courtroom where an arrogant judge is furious to all and rest of the attendants are listening and tolerating as they can't say or do anything against him.

It is said that when one wears black glasses, he sees everything as dark and gloomy. However he shouts and complains of the darkness of the view, problem would remain unsolved until and unless he doesn't remove the glasses.

In this case, the age and experience of an elder emerge as the black glasses that show him each and everything to be dark. He thinks that he knows better than others, he is well-experienced comparing to others regarding the different issues of the world and others will do mistakes and thus it becomes his responsibility to make corrections in the work of others, whenever and wherever found necessary. This unnecessary and mostly unwelcome meddling results in a great frustration for others and of course a tiresome load of work for him.

The problem can be solved so that an old member should be able to live with a soothing harmony with the rest of the members of the family only by the alteration of the ideas and practices of the head of the family. First, it should be taken as granted that no one is perfect in this world and every member of the family would commit a mistake. Keeping this fact in view, a famous quotation has been said that, "If everything got perfect in the world, who would long for the paradise? Nothing would ever be perfect in the world while paradise would be the picture of absolute perfection".

Second, if I know each and everything, it doesn't grant me a right to interfere in other's issues especially when it is not going to be warmly welcomed. In the matters of family, no doubt our elders should be careful to make corrections but if every single problem like an open door is going to open a series of clash and misunderstanding, it is better to keep the door of correction shut.

And most importantly, we need to be expecting the naughtiness and jolly mood from children or teenagers according to their ages. This is all natural and even the old men of today were also the same when they were in the same age groups. Time is the biggest teacher of all that would make all its lessons learnt when it will feel that its time has fallen.

A person who was very well aware of the importance of respecting and upholding the privacy of youngsters told me that when he felt that he was no more appropriate to be a part of the company, he used to quietly drift out of it. This not only relieved him but also the youngsters who sit and wait so that the elder might leave the gathering and they should turn to their favorite activities that suit their age like watching a movie, lighting a cigarette, giving out loud laughter and cutting jokes on each other.

Contrary to this, when a person sits in the company that doesn't suit him, very erroneous and painful picture is drawn in which both the parties seem to be sitting reluctantly. An elder is feeling a bit uneasy with slight giggles and small jokes of youngsters which is something common with them.

On the other hand, youngsters also feel bore and wait for the departure of the elder. Anyhow, it does not mean that we should be absolutely against the mutual love, intimacy and respect between the elders and youngsters but it should be taken care that a plant should not be planted in a barren desert as it would dry up due to the harsh weather and shortage of water. Another unfair point in this regard would be that we would deprive the plant to live and nourish the people with its fruit, shade and cold air.

A person had many sons and they all lived in a combined family system. After dinner, his sons' friends also used to assemble in their guest room where they played cards or created another source of entertainment. The man used to sit in their company. One day he complained to one of his friends that those kids laughed at him and tried to make fun of him. His friend secretly told this to his elder son. His son invited the friend to come and sit in the company of his friends. The man came and was very pleased and impressed with these polite kids.

Next day, son of the man asked his father's friend as if he found anything wrong with his friends or did he ever feel that they did anything that might be regarded as insulting. The man gave his answer in negative. Then the son told him that they used to be like this with his father as well but he had himself developed this strange idea. Problem is that, when some people don't fit any company or gathering, they start assuming negative things about it. That is my observation that if a learned man comes and sits in the company of youngsters and shares his mature ideas with them, they hardly permit him to leave their company as the youngsters are easily mesmerized by the power of words and thoughts.

One of my most favorite and inspirational teachers, Sir Ishaque used to teach us when we were in Advanced Stage of English Language Course. He used to assign unique tasks and assignments to us that provided us with wonderful opportunity to express our ideas and thoughts. One day, he assigned us to write a small essay on a topic, "What would I do if I were a grandmother?" When students read out their essays the following day, many wonderful and interesting ideas were given out and some of them I still remember which I would like to share with you. One had written that 'If I were a grandmother, I would let the girls to choose the cloth of their own choice. Whenever girls went to bazaar and wanted to buy a cloth, grandmother would at once jump in and gave her final remarks that which color suited the girl.

I wish the girl could have said that, "Granny, you are not going to wear this and we should be left to choose the color. You should decide upon the color when you should be buying a cloth for yourself." Another had written, "If I were the grandmother, I could have never interfered in the fights of children as in most of the cases, the grandmother had not finished shouting that the children who had fought were found to be playing together and forgotten the incident of a few moments earlier."

Two men were criticizing the children. One said to the other, 'I can never understand the children of our time. If you ask a child that there is a delicious and healthy meal for you and outside the home, in the street, your friends are going to start a football game, then which one would you prefer, and the child would run outside to join the football, no matter how hungry he would be feeling'. The other man nodded his head in agreement. Here, important thing to be understood is that our preferences change with the passage of time.

A young boy doesn't take care about the inflation, less jobs, importance of a bright career and thus the efforts needed to make a successful career. He is rather interested in deciding upon how he should finish his school work early and join the company of friends and play the game he cherishes the most until the sun settles down and he is sure that if he doesn't return home, he would be scolded or punished by either of the parents.

Similarly, some old men are found to be busy in worshipping all the time as they are sure that they are going to depart the world any moment and their worship and good deeds are going to support them in the different stages after the death.

If we facilitate our children in enjoying and playing their games, we might make them willingly agree to study or do the work of our choice after the game. This is the rule of exchange that is successfully in use in world economy and same can be applied in the case of children.

A person was continually told by a group of elders that youngsters waste their time and they should try to develop a company and gathering like them and should learn how to be sober and calm. This young man decided to observe the company of old men and thus one day he went and sat in their company.

First, they were a bit hesitant to allow him into their company but then they kindly allowed him. He later told me that the two hours he spent with them expanded and stretched like two years. The old men first talked about routine things like weather and news.

Then one of them turned ON the radio and they listened to the news. Then one of them started telling about his past days that he did this in his childhood and did that in his youth and so on. Then another continued and he told his stories. In the meantime, one had slept and started snoring.

Some old men were sitting among each other. Then one of them smiled, blinked to his friends and said, "Frankly speaking, we were even more naughty and interested in games when we were also the children. These days, we don't miss a chance to criticize them for being so".

Our elders worked hard and suffered a lot and patiently gave sacrifices to bring us to the stage when we are strong and now they are weak. It would be absolute injustice if we can't return to them what they did to us, if not all, then at least a portion of it.

In the end, I would like to conclude with a prayer for myself, "O Allah! When I reach to the old age, please make my heart big and content, ideas mature and healthy, temper easily controlled and calm, and views broad and positive".

Mohammad Rasool Shah is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and teaches English at Afghan-Turk School, Kabul. Email your suggestions and opinions at muhammadrasoolshah@gmail.com

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