Seema R Kholiya
Do you know, what it is like being 40?
For women, ageing is something that is always talked in hushed voices. May be it is the ticking biological engine, or the Bollywood glamorisation that needs to be blamed for such concealment. But to this, I was no exception. I was scared of attaining ‘the 40’. And on my 39th birthday, my life was turned upside down. No! Not in anyway wrong, but with enlightenment. An enlightenment that allowed me to age gracefully, and allowed me to flaunt my 40.
So, after my birthday party was over, I slumped into my sofa exhausted. Did I feel a little more fatigue than my usual birthday parties? Was it was due to ageing? As if to resonate with my thought process, I noticed a half-deflated helium balloon sticking under the ceiling, with the ceiling hampering its flight. Since then, the colourful balloon with its extensively long tail dangles from the ceiling, trying to escape somehow.
Perhaps like me! As the balloon, I was crucially confused on how to turn down the effects of 40.
Choosing the right people and positive attitude dictate my emotions normally, but this time around I was in a different sphere of existence. I eventually managed to overlook the loosely floating balloon on the ceiling because it gave me a nasty comparison between my age and that balloon. Knocking the threshold of 40, which sounded a bit intimidating, I shifted my focus on how to take this as a sign of positive reinforcement.
Instead of bottling my 40-phobia, I decided to talk about the phenomenon to the friends who have crossed paths with the 40’s, and see how the 40’s looked from their pedestal. And that entire journey led me to some honest, candid, and refreshing realisations. And, here I share some of these reflections, with the only intention to give a head start to the younger women at the threshold of the 40’s.
1. You become wiser – Being 40 makes me feel seasoned, though laden with some greys and some wrinkles. In your 30’s you have a lot of varied experiences, but it is in the 40’s that you start putting those pieces in place like a jigsaw puzzle and form a pattern out of it, enabling you to see so much more. And you feel empowered with this knowledge.
What I learnt – Never ever hide your age!
2. You are a sandwich generation – Our generation is squeezed between Gen X and Gen Z. As the generation in between, you do not have much choices, but largely orders to be taken, between lasagna to multi-grain khichdi, between daughters and sons, and in-laws and parents. You are their one point stop for pouring out their frustrations.
What I learnt – Instead of feeling lonely, step out, and hang around with more of your age group!
3. You are frightfully forgetful – I usually forget refrigerator visits or get suspended into a trance while talking to someone. Children get annoyed when I say, ‘Hey Guys! Uska woh kahaan hai?’ And they would roll their eyes. The documents always end up misplaced, and mobile phones always get cremated under sofa cushions. Phew!
What I learnt – Calm down, learn and practice the technique of mindfulness!
4. You are enlightened – This is all very sudden. One fine morning you are magically gifted with seventh sense, which enables you to wipe off all the fog, and poof!!! The world and its choices are crystal clear. You choose friends over sycophants, respect over institutional marriage, books over gossip, the list is quite lengthy, it will take a separate article to discuss it.
What I learnt – Cherish your new found enlightenment!
5. You have one-night stands – The midnight lust that converts a docile lady into a coquettish carb lover. From the left-over cheese burst pizza to half-eaten falooda, everything becomes a delightful gulp. It is the duality of being 40, basically your appetite is confused. And, that is okay.
What I learnt – Do not bother about the confused appetite!
6. You have a villain in your 40-saga. The hormones are like one-sided lovers, very controlling, huh! They control estrogen, progesterone, gestures, love, sex, foreplay. Every damn thing is controlled. If you feel so, do not ridicule yourself. It is very normal, talk to a friend and you will find someone else sailing in the same boat.
What I learnt – Plot a conspiracy to defeat the villain!
7. You and your hips don’t lie – Yeah! Very much. Being 40 is coupled with slow-paced metabolism. Calories are not as combustible as it used to be earlier. Have the riches of the age. Go! flaunt your curves.
What I learnt – Eat-sleep-gym-repeat!
8. Your mirror tells the tale – The most frequented place in the home, around 40, is the reflecting, obedient glass piece on the wall. And what if it disobeys? Well, it will open the flood of tantrums. But then, beauty is never limited.
What I learnt – Try out different makeovers, to enrich the changing beauty!
9. The sexual fantasies go for a thrill ride. It is like river rafting in all its glory. But not always! Sometimes you want to lose some calories with skin to skin exercise, and sometimes you cannot stand even his natural body odour.
What I learnt – Keep the flame burning, you know how!
10. You are bored of your 25 kameez and 30 evening gowns – I always lack an event-appropriate attire. It is controversial though, I have always been the victim of poor wardrobe functioning. Be it a sangeet party or gossip gathering, I am at the mercy of high-end retailers, just before an hour of the program. Because every kameez or choli is ill-fitting on that particular day.
What I learnt – Try mixing and matching the mood and the clothes!
Be it a helium balloon or stuffing of the sandwich, with all its glory, I cherish being a quadragenarian. Oh, I mean 40! Learning high-end vocab, that’s my new thing! Who says life stops at 40?
Seema is a homemaker turned blogger and a short story writer. Entering into an institution of marriage right when government grants adulthood, she felt at a loss about the rules. The rules of domesticity. And it costed her a handsome deal, but it also gave her stories to write. The human stories. Exactly after the same period of 18 years, she is on the path of rediscovering the long lost girl again.
You can follow her short stories and blogs on momspresso and JVpedia.