By my own standards, which are generally progressive and liberal, this blog may read slightly regressive! Having given this caveat in the beginning itself, let me start by saying that if age is nothing but a mere number, then it’s one helluva number! Today, we all ( and I dare not single out women because I find men equally touchy in this matter, if not more) become very conscious when people query us on our age! We all want to look fitter and younger, sound youthful and naughty and behave like a teenager to try and hide our age to the extent possible. Nothing wrong with that! Everyone has the right to dress up or look as he or she wishes and there’s no real bar associated with the age! To that extent, we can say that it’s just a number. However, the problem begins when we either encounter a person younger to us or elder to us. Except for Kolkata, where people still use quaint old sweet addresses as Bodhi, Didi, Dada, Kaku, etc, in other places, we get terribly upset on being called uncle or Aunty by our junior, though we leave no opportunity in calling a person, even if few months our elder, “Uncle” or “Aunty”. I have seen ladies (including my wifey dear) getting terribly upset when called Aunty by not so young person! In fact, the fast changing culture is the one of addressing each other irrespective of relationship ( blood, official, informal) by the first name! So a boss doesn’t mind being called by his first name by his juniors and the question of minding the same when his boss calls him by his first name doesn’t arise at all ! Gone are the days, when children will address their elder siblings as didi or bhaiya, their uncles as chacha or mama, aunts as bua, mousi, mami or chachi! In advanced families, it’s the first name basis and not so advanced its plain uncle or aunty, which is also, strictly speaking, not relished by the elders!
So far nothing wrong with all this! If the world is changing and if we don’t keep pace with the changes, we shall be losing out in life! The problem starts when this desire to look, feel and experience youthfulness assumes a proportion where one loses sense of propriety in respect of relationships! The affectionate feeling for a younger sibling or a relative, when addressed bhaiya, mama or chacha by her or him and that empathy and respect when being called Sir or madam by your juniors and when you respectfully address your boss somehow goes amiss and the feeling triggered is more of camaraderie or friendship or companionship! Even nothing particularly wrong with this, which is still acceptable. It becomes a social problem when this obsession overpowers our maternal or paternal instincts (filial feelings) and we try to sizzle with our youngsters that’s leading to lots of current social issues such as child rape, molestation and incest- all very serious issues in today’s milieu!
The fact is that there could be need for each one of us to reconcile with the issue of aging and age gracefully! After all, when our junior calls us respectfully or when we address our youngster affectionately, it should have no change if we treat the age is mere number! It’s not only about feeling youthful by defying age – we can feel youthful even at 80 and beyond if we have an active routine and interests to pursue! Mere address by name may not be a sign of modernism or liberalism but more of jingoism that could be one of the factors responsible for aforesaid social issues!
My readers are largely aligned to my thoughts expressed in my blogs; but if the reason attributed to some of the social malaise highlighted by me reads or appears regressive I would welcome reactions.