I am twenty two. Always twenty two. Make of it what you will.
I was scrolling down my facebook wall, idly looking at posts and unconsciously hitting likes. I say if its cheap, why not use it. Liking doesn't cost you a penny, so like as much as you want. I am in the habit of such mass liking that when (and if) I receive any likes on my pictures, I divide the total number of likes by two, assuming that at least half of the 'likers' probably belong to my category.
Just then, I came across some birthday pics titled "my Double Decade" or "My 21st" or "Coming of Age" and so on. And followed pretty pictures in LBDs, gaudy lehengas or dazzling anarkali suits. It brought to my mind the fact that my birthday is approaching. I was thinking of buying a nice low-cut lavender dress that I saw a starved model showcasing online. It looked quite a catch. And then came to mind clicking pictures-endless selfies, unlimited photo-ops and a great vanity boost. Then I wondered about the title of the to-be album. I would write 'My 20th-something', wouldn’t I?
It struck me that I have never seen a woman put up an album with a header-'My 31st' or 'My 42nd' or 'My 55th' or even 'My 28th'! Is 28 old? There is this particular age after which women seal their lips about the number of years they have been surviving on this planet. I call it the 'freezing age'. Everyone knows the 2 precious numerals one must never ask a woman-her age and her weight. (Actually there are a load of things men should avoid asking women. It would take quite a while to compile the list.)
Between them, weight is something which one can hardly conceal. It is only the wily elusive age that can befuddle the hearts and minds of innocent men, who are lured into believing the freezing age as a woman's true age. Like all her vital assets, a woman clothes her age in an opaque outfit of age-defying makeup and weight-loss regimes.
Vanity, thy name is woman!
A few days ago, I was clicking selfies in some new hairstyle I had copied from a youtube video. As the camera lens focused on my face, a message hovered over the focal boundaries-"32, female". My heart stopped in its tracks. What devilish claptrap was this? I can still tolerate face recognition softwares, even though they match my face with my grandmother's. I usually discount the errors as the usual AI glitches.No computer can be that accurate.
Then comes this supposedly age and gender recognition software that threatens to expose the blemishes, the unevenness of complexion and other such foibles of my skin, that I strove to obscure using photo-editing softwares.
I tried to change the angle of focus. The age came down to 28 and I heaved a small sigh of relief. Another adjustment though shot it up to 36, thus pouncing on my vanity and deflating my self-confidence. Numerous such attempts at lens focus created an age range for me-an age range, which seemed never to touch teenage but always seemed to go upto the 30s. Technology-boon or bane? Right then, I was in a mood to debate in favor of the latter. I was sorely disappointed and my selfie conviviality faded.
I know age is just a number. But it is a very important number.
Some of the women wear their age on their sleeves. Take Indira Gandhi, for instance, with the fashionable trademark grey streak in her jet black plumage. Take Rekha of Bollywood. Or Hema Malini. The world is brimming with examples. But the fact remains that the obsession with age cannot be downplayed. Be it accepting or adjusting to one's age gracefully or masking it with botox and age-freezing products, women have a special bond with this magic number. This is the reason why some of the women, despite being past their middle age, take offence when you append an 'aunty' to their name. They prefer to be called 'didi' or better referred to by their names. [This little note pertains only to the Indian way of living. The western lifestyle has no age barriers anyway. Its only Miss or Mrs. or plain Jane.]
So...what goes up and never comes down?
And what goes up, reaches a certain point and then freezes?
A woman's age !!!