The day dawned with peals of temple bells echoing right across the town as a special pooja(servise) was performed to the accompaniment of chants of hymns by a battery of priests. The rituals culminated in a 'Thulabharam'(an offering in weight equal to devotee's body weight) of coconuts to be destributed amongst the poor.
The occasion was my 55th birthday. I was, of course, niether a hotshot politician nor a fat-cat buisiness magnate to warrant such razzmatazz. I was just a commoner drilling a neat hole in my wallet to commemorate a mile stone I hadn't hoped to reach.
Oddly, it wasn't a clairvoyant who presaged my early passage through the Pearly Gates( a euphimism for dying). It was a formula I came across in a local rag, viz, TALE= GAS-LIE (where tale= total allowable life expectancy, GAS= general ancestral survival, and LIE= lethal indulgence effect) that portended a premature tryst with my maker. For, in my case TALE worked out to be 54 years.
But the motives behind my longing for longevity were purely altruistic. I just wanted to be around to applaud the world when the first man landed on Mars. To see global community, instead of fighting like cats and dogs over Global Warming, come to a radical decision to save the earth. Or to see my neighbour's son who had been studying medicine for a decade would ever pass his final degree.
Well, coming back to my tale, it made me feel likedrug on the chemist's shelf with the expiry date printed on it. The upshot was that I began reading the obituary columns avidly, merely to compare my age with the age of the people who went from dust to dust (younger they conked out, the shakier I became).
Each day I counted my falling hair (a hair on head worth two on brush) with concern. And I grew supersticious and seered clear of buckets, lest I should kick one of them.
And once the purported D-day passed off uneventfully, growing in confidence, I set out on a search for the elixir of life. As a part of my research, I attended a function to honour the pldest man on earth, a centenarian, just to hear him give away the secrets of his long life.
I was bitterly disappointed when the man didn't turn up owing to the illness of his father!
Then I read about a 90-year-old man who married an 18-year-old girl. At the wedding reception, her friends gave her an expensive night gown and his friends gave him two months.
My longivity research is going on.......so far.
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