Looking back


I promise this post is not sad. It is more wistful and perhaps a didactic one. Continue reading though, I will try not to sound preachy, I will preach/teach only to myself.

Let me say one thing right at the beginning that I do not consider myself overweight…..yet. My BMI, if you believe the chart, is still within normal range. Let’s ignore the fact that it is creeping towards the higher end of normal but those are nitty gritties. This blog is about how I have perceived myself over the years as I was living in that moment, and how I see my photos of past years, now.

I weighed 112 pounds, 50 kgs when I came to this country in my mid twenties. I ate whatever I wanted, ice-cream and desserts for dinner, drank copious amount of soda and did not gain any weight. I did end up with 2 cavities in my teeth within 7 months of being here though. At age 29, I had my first child and put on some weight because I continued to eat indiscriminately. Then I saw my photos at Sahana’s rice eating ceremony. I gasped. After getting over the shock at the fact that I, in fact, can gain weight, I started being mindful of the quantity of food I ate, started walking and lost the extra pounds. I think I was satisfied with how I looked but I am not sure. Looking back, I can never remember a time when I was comfortable with how I looked. That is a terrible way to live. Anyway, I had Ryan at 34. Losing the weight after him was not too much of a struggle because running after young children took care of the extra calories I consumed . Also, I hardly had time to eat. With each decade, however, I packed on some extra weight which I was unable to lose till that became my new normal. I turned 50 a couple of years ago and I have a new bar again. I have never been this heavy in my life. My mid section and face are carrying all the extra weight. I have been asked twice this year if I was pregnant. On top of it all, I simply love food. I try not to indulge too much, I try to stay active, I try to incorporate fruits and veggies in my diet but clothes still feel tight. Errr…I sometimes cheat though. I sneak in a brownie at work or two despite my good intentions of staying away from added sugar. Oh well!

What is interesting, however, is when I look back and see some of my photos in my twenties, thirties, forties or even a couple of years ago, I think to myself, “Oh, I looked mighty fine at that age.” I am quite sure though that I did not think I looked mighty fine when I was at that age. I am positive I had misgivings about my body shape, my skin, my hair. I think I will look back on this age in 10 years (if I am alive) and think “Hmm, I looked quite good.”

Here comes the preachy part – to myself! I wouldn’t preach to you, I wouldn’t dare. Appreciate myself today, not ten years later while looking back. In this journey of my life when I feel I am learning new things constantly, this new lesson just got added to the curriculum.

I am old…


“Sahana, I am getting old!” I proclaimed this morning before heading out to work.

She was deeply contemplating which music to play on her Spotify. But she heard me and reflexively replied, “No you are not.”

“Yes I am!”

“NO, you are not! Why do you say that?” She did look up from her screen – interested now in knowing.

“I pulled a muscle near my elbow brushing my hair. That happens to aging folks. As we get old we have trouble drying hair, get pulled muscle while brushing hair.” I provided fool proof example of my advancing years and utterly weak elbow muscles.

“Pffft….that is not a sign of aging. You simply have so much hair that brushing them gave your arm a muscle pull. This is an example of abundance of your hair not advancing age.”

Bam! She turned the ailment to compliment. One needs to learn from her how to convert criticism to compliment. We both laughed out loud. And I want to remember this moment so here it goes in my blog post.

Blurry and fading


I have already written a blog about aging. Apart from some physical distress, like diminishing eyesight and creaking knee, I do not mind getting older. It is a natural process and I find it pointless fighting it. This blog is not about aging but about becoming invisible, fading – literally!

I had read in books that women of a certain age start becoming invisible to the world. I have reached that age where I have started fading. People at stores and restaurants, often, look through me rather than at me. Here is the reality though – I love being invisible. As an introvert, I have tried my best to be invisible all my life and on occasion, when I have been thrust into spotlight, I have been most uncomfortable and after, drained. So being invisible to the world due to my age is a boon not a curse. I guess I am more than happy with the world seeing past me because the few people who matter most ‘see’ me.

This aging phenomenon is most interesting. With age, my outward appearance is somewhat fading. The sharp lines of the jaw area have slackened, the skin is loosening in an unattractive manner, the wrinkles on my forehead and laugh lines around the mouth are gaining prominence. The blue black hair of youth has significant strands of grey in them. I particularly love the grey around my temple. I feel it adds a certain depth to my being although my aunt in Kolkata shrieked when she saw me on a video call recently.

“Eki? Tor chul peke gelo?”

(What’s this? Your hair turned gray?”

Even my eye brows are thinning and look sparse. I think the thinning eyebrows are primarily responsible for this faded out look. I do not think about this much. Then why am I writing a blog on my slow fading, you ask? I am writing the blog because I took a selfie which was somewhat blurred by natural light. The irony became clear. My blurry, faded selfie looked beautiful. I don’t think this slow invisibility of a brown, middle aged woman is unbeautiful at all. I daresay this faded phase is rather pretty!

I thought of ending the blog with my photo but upon rereading this post, I felt this one reeked of narcissism although I was really going for the irony. Is this narcissism though, or self love? Anyway, narcissism is a sin, right? Just to take the narcissism angle out of the equation I will reveal that I used an eyebrow liner to fill in my sparse eyebrows.

There. Fixed it. 🤣

Being 50.


50 was just another number till I went to my doctor for my physical. A little special perhaps, but still more or less another number like 49 or 51. But my doctor’s ‘wit’ hit home the truth. Wow, I made it to 50! She said, “Here is the slip for getting your colonoscopy done. And your bone density scan. Happy birthday!”

What does being 50 mean to me? I thought of this as I drove home from the doctor’s office.

Memories of youth have started fading so I try to think of them often, or write them here. My futile attempt to hold on to the beautiful ones and relinquish the ones that are not so beautiful.

Being 50 is looking at the mirror thinking, “I look darn good for a 50 year old” and then looking at a photo of me thinking “Jeez, look at those bags under my eyes!.”

Being 50 means insomnia often. But there are plenty of books to read so the quiet of night and sleeplessness bother me less. The tiredness on the following day does though.

Being 50 means seeming slow to my fast moving children when it comes to technology.

Being 50 means desire to travel intensifying – post Covid, of course.

Being 50 means being sad sometimes for no apparent reason.

Being 50 means not feeling invincible anymore.

Being 50 means glimpses of my mortality and surprisingly being unafraid of the thought.

Being 50 is losing myself in my memories of childhood, youth and young romance with my handsome beau.

Being 50 means realizing that my children need me less and less.

Being 50 means being picked up and twirled around by my 15 year old son when he realizes he is close to getting in trouble. I invariably laugh. He does not dare if he IS in trouble.

Being 50 is caring more for doing my part in the world AND caring less about slights/snubs/insults.

Being 50 is also being thankful for the opportunities that I have been given.

Being 50 is being freer in thoughts.

Being 50 is being confident.

Being 50 is creaking of joints.

Being 50 is groaning a little while getting up as the knee twinges.

Being 50 is being afraid of losing loved ones.

Being 50 is shedding superficial relationships.

Being 50 is enjoying silence.

Being 50 also means starting to think of how life will be in the next phase.

Being 50 is giving thanks to be alive on a gorgeous day amidst nature.

Being 50 means finally finding my “good side” for selfie, directed by the daughter of course.

Being 50 means not quite understanding how being 50 should feel!

Aging


Aging does not bother me too much. In a weird way, it is liberating. The face is not as thin as it used to be, the jawline is getting blurry, there are pouches under my eyes, the hair has significant strands of white. Although, I must say when I take care to blow dry my hair, and the strands of white are not all fuzzy and crazy like, they totally look stylish.

Feet hurt a little at the end of the day and yes, the back hurts sometimes when I wake up. The knee creaks and the doctor tells me my bones are bad. Physically, it is a downhill journey but mentally it is freeing. I speak my mind more, I am less sensitive, I can laugh about myself and the horrible insecurity has magically disappeared. No, you will still not find me dancing wildly on the dance floor but that is primarily because I have 2 left feet and no sense of direction. I can cause serious injury to fellow dancers by grooving in the wrong direction. When someone calls me old, it is not an insult, just the state of my being in the present moment. I embrace all of it. Except one thing……

What is with the belly fat??? I hate that jiggle. And it is not about what people are going to think about my pear shaped body, it is completely about my efforts at getting rid of it and the utter failure.

All my life, I have been unable to put on weight; so with the cockiness of someone with fast metabolism I did not pay attention to the gradually accumulating belly fat till one day I could not button my pants. Talk about a rude awakening. Every time a pant feels tighter or the love handles spill over the waistband I promise myself, this is it – less carbs, no sugar, more exercise and I can get this to disappear. But I work at a library. It is a well known fact that librarians love to eat and feed fellow librarians. Customers love us and show their appreciation by bringing us home made goodies or store bought treats. Moreover, I am a Bengali. We Bengalis can not resist food. So all of the above work against my good resolutions.

So now that I have written down all the reasons for my burgeoning girth, I can hopefully work towards a resolution. There are a couple of reasons for that. A doctor check up is coming up. My doctor will not be amazed by my fantastic BMI this time and second being a Kolkata trip in a couple of months. Kolkata means home, Kolkata means parents, Kolkata means love, Kolkata means memories, Kolkata means amazing Bengali food and Bengali sweets, Kolkata means…. belly fat. Sigh. And my slowing metabolism. Deadly combination.