Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

I went to a club reunion in my hometown that I had not visited in 25 years and realised time can be cruel and just couldn’t resist elderly jokes.

Nobody recognised me, but luckily no one made remarks that I had shrunk in size like a prune or that my memory was as bad as my jokes.

“So, what are you doing nowadays?” asked a former club member, who vaguely seemed like someone whom I knew in a different world when I was younger, ‘handsome’ and had a terrible haircut. But I was pleased when I did not attract comments from complete strangers, like, ‘watch that step’ or ‘hold on to the railing’.

While I was trying mentally to spice up my boring life and tell some interesting stories about myself, he was off and shaking hands with someone he finally recognised.

I am at that time of my life when I do not get upset when a 30-year-old man calls me ‘uncle’ in India, but I do not know how to react when a young woman offers me a seat in a crowded metro train. I quietly take the offered seat, while younger guys look at me in both sympathy and jealousy.

I was trying to evoke a laugh at the reunion saying that it is getting tougher for us guys to pass through airport security.

We not only have to take off our belt and shoes (which takes ages, especially if the shoes have laces) but also explain to the security guards that you cannot pass through the gates because like RoboCop, you have a heart pace maker, a steel plate in your head and a rod in your knee, I said.

It did not get any laughs and I realised many of my friends are now like aliens with artificial body parts and proudly show off the scars they have accumulated from the various operations they have undergone.

Rising cases of divorce

It was also difficult to explain that you are still married to the same person, that you had met aeons ago. Nobody understands that concept, because just like the young, upwardly mobile professionals who change jobs every three years, people now marry more frequently.

When we were passing the courthouse in the town that I lived for many years and which I thought was the most boring place in the world and hoped to escape from one day, my cousin said that the largest number of cases that the court handles was regarding divorce.

When I was growing up in this mind-numbing town, where everybody slept as soon as the sun set and not even a stray dog would be on the streets, divorce was taboo, and you lived with the toxic person for the sake of the children. Now women are taking the first step to end relationships.

It was sad to see the independent house on the corner of Street Number 1 where I grew up is now a block of flats on stilts. Everyone on the street has either sold their homes and moved on or built a bunch of apartments on the land and are living cheek and jowl with total strangers.

Every morning I would heard a man singing in the bathroom upstairs and a few minutes later, a woman in another bathroom would join in as she sloshed water.

But some things never change despite the passing of years. The fruit seller, with the funny voice, still roams the quiet neighbourhood, the knife sharpener still cycles around, shouting something unintelligible, only thing new is that I kept getting lost on the street where I lived.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.