is a country called Shriveling we all have to visit if we are fortunate enough
to grow old. Where the fortune ends is another matter – at what point does old
age become a curse? I suppose it depends upon the perspective and consciousness
of each of us. But then consciousness itself starts to shrivel with a
shriveling brain. We spend the first party of our visit to this planet learning
numbers and alphabets, and the last part forgetting them. Take my mother, for
instance. The string of counting has snapped in her brain. She can’t tell ten
from a hundred and a hundred from a thousand. She told me she gave her cook
fifteen hundred rupees when he went on leave, but when I was in her bedroom
after the cook returned, he walked into the room with a thick wad of bills in
his hand to repay the loan. He insisted, honest as he is, that she gave him
fifteen thousand. This is just one instant, there are hundreds such. And she
won’t allow my brother or sister-in-law, who live upstairs, to be present
during her financial interactions because she sees it as interference. She has
always been fiercely independent and egotistical. A family joke goes: “Did you
hear that Bade Mummy (Big Mummy, which her grandchildren and great grandchildren
– she has six of the latter, the oldest turning seventeen yesterday — call
her) is having an affair?” Pause.
“With herself!
I am not equating consciousness with the brain. I have to admit that though I
use the word often, I haven’t a clue what it is. Payson’s mother, after she
lost her brain to Alzheimer’s, continued to be a sweet presence. There was
definitely consciousness there, but of a kind we, so used to living with and in
and through our brains, cannot name or recognize.
I was speaking of Shriveling (it is preceded by much rambling, in my case). All
the organs that begin to expand, grow and fill out after we begin the journey
towards the plumpness of life, start to go the other way when we reach a
certain point. Prune-hood lies before each of us. We are in this country before
we know it.
is a picture of my hand. You can see the transformation. Here is a picture of
Payson and my mother, both in different stages of Prune-hood.
failed to upload photos after a two hour wait. Next time

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