In precisely three months, I will turn 40. I hope to write a long and sentimental post a few days before I reach the milestone -- the milestone that officially marks the entry to middle-age. But right now, when the time is 3.20 am and when I was quite busy rewriting a chapter for the Chennai book, I don't know why the thought suddenly struck me that I would be 40 soon.
Maybe because this evening, when I went to work, the office boy handed me an envelope that contained four Mediclaim cards. Two things struck me as odd: no. 1, one of the cards issued was in the name of my mother, who is now up in heaven (my fault: I should have officially communicated to the people concerned that my mother is no more, but I presumed they all knew); no. 2, on my own card, my age was given as 40. You can fool the world but you can't fool the HR department which is instrumental in getting you medical benefits. If your date of birth is December 26, 1970, the HR guys are naturally going to calculate your current age to be 40: they won't wait for the clock to strike twelve.
Fuck, I am forty! Fuck time, really. The bitch makes no noise while it is ticking away. It deliberately ticks on the sly, as silently as possible, so that it can spring surprises on you just when you are feeling good about life. What a sadist bitch, I tell you. She sucks your blood without you realising it, and then one day you look carefully into the mirror and discover the damage she has done. By then it is too late.
But it is never too late. Show the middle finger to her and you might just live. Ms Time must realise we no longer live in the pre-World War II era when tuberculosis cut short promising lives even while they were in their forties: D.H. Lawrence and George Orwell, to name just two. Today, life begins at forty. And that's because our parents are living much longer and their assuring presence makes us feel like kids even whle we are in our thirties. The forties, therefore, is the new teenage. So celebrate, ladies and gentlemen!
But we all know such a celebration is only delusionary: forty, after all, is forty and not fourteen. Real celebration is when you are able to turn the tables and screw Ms Time so hard that she doesn't dare touch you until you have seen at least 88 summers. Am talking about Mr Henry Miller. He was no Hemingway, but he was no less. Both Miller and Hemingway survived the two World Wars and lived happily ever after -- none of them died of tuberculosis. And the reason for this, according to me, was their libido and appetite for life.
I have hope. I not only share Mr Miller's libido and appetite for life, but also his date of birth.