Wednesday, 24 September 2014

friends my age

friends my age are popping off one by one. last week he was udayan, a former national volleyball captain, and a week still before, thomas, a college mate and former colleague at workplace. udayan was four years younger to me and still an athlete at 54, when suddenly his heart stopped beating.

shamsuddeen, joy, jaiji, sashi, akkusootto... when i look at the list, i see it had actually begun when i was still a little kid. mohanraj was my classmate in upper primary school way back in 1960's when he died after being away from school for two days.

it had been happening all along--only, the frequency of it happening has gone up nowadays.

i am 58. i did a story for my paper the other day about a new ageing survey done by the CDS here. according to the survey and census projections, Kerala will have as many people above the age of 60 as children below the age of 14 by the year 2024. Kerala's life expectancy is high and birthrate low and so the elderly are catching up with the children.

yet, some of them who are yet to fall under the 'elderly' category are popping off, even those with very clean habits. bad habits are not that much of a factor unless one is too reckless. i had a relative who lived on to be 96 with nearly seven decades of hard drinking and smoking to his credit. he was healthy to the last day. he would have gone on to complete a century, had it not been for alzheimer's,



rknair said...

It's all in your genes. Some are programmed to die early and some destined to have a lengthy innings, no matter what they ate, drank, smoked or how they lived. My father, who died at 86 last year, was a hard drinker and was in perfect health till eight months prior to his death. Finally, dementia did him in. As for the shift in the demographic profile of Kerala, that's the price of progress! As our living standards improve, we're going the Scandinavian way!

P. Venugopal said...

it is all in our genes and certain chance occurrences too. i can recall at least three occasions in my life when my story would have come to an end. the first was when i was 16 or so when a friend saved me from drowning in the Pampa River. i had blacked out sinking after a cramp while swimming and the next thing i remember was coughing out water from my lungs on the bank, kanthan, my friend, having pulled me out. kanthan, i am sure, does not remember it now, because he had never known what i know--that i was dying. the second time was when i jumped on to the footboard of a running bus when in college, lost my step and hold, and fell virtually under the left rear wheel of the moving bus. by some fortunate chance i rolled myself out of the path of the wheel. the third was when i was 40 or so when i went into the attic of our house in alappuzha trying to locate a dead and stinking rat and accidently stepped beyond the wooden part of the ceiling on to a portion where we had used flat asbetoes sheets for a false ceiling. the floor of the attic, which was brittle asbetoes where we had done the false ceiling, gave in and i would have crashed down to a very dangerous area in the kitchen workplace where were the old stone grinders, `attu kallu', 'ara kallu' and so on. by some luck i found myself hanging between two chance rafters, which too broke, but gave me a split second's time to slow down my fall on to the stone grinders and avoid my head hitting anywhere.
i know any of these three incidents would have gone either way.
the best one can wish for in life is a honourable death. i should not be remembered by my children as a pop who met with his death while searching for a dead rat in the attic. falling under the wheels of a bus is messy and drowning too is not all that honourable, with all those police 'mahasar' preparations, autopsy and other embarrassments involved.