I too would like to live to be 92 years old.
I went to the hospital to see this 'friend' of mine who is turning ninety-two in a few months. He is surprisingly fit: he can read ordinary print, like in the newspaper or text messages; his stride is nothing short of amazing, almost a bounce, as he takes his evening rounds of the park; and best of all is his ability to communicate, without pulling you down as older people are wont to do, in that whining, almost morbid tone which makes them more respect-worthy they must think, for their age, that is. Or their brave suffering, carrying on inspite of all the world's inequities?
He lay there in a private room in the hospital as I walked in. It was a Sunday afternoon. Looking peaceful, reminding me of some literary English character, with his longish hair and beard cut in french-style. The room was a well kept one too, an armchair near the window placed invitingly where I went and sat down.
I call him simply 'uncle!' as I always have these past twenty years. He usually responds as 'my dear' or often more affectionately as " my dear boy! so good to see you!". And always with a gesture of reaching out to me, as if to put his arms around me. He met me again effusively, but this time he seemed to lack the energy to move his body.
I had texted him the day before asking how it was going in the hospital. He texted back " .. they kept needling me through the night and emptying my meager qty of blood. Got little time to sleep. Wait till my recovery and I will do my best .." He was making light of it of course, and referring to mediating in a personal matter I asked him to help me with, when he said .. 'he would do his best.'
We would meet otherwise in a park near his house in the afternoons. This was after a long break of nearly fifteen years. I had lived in a room at that time, built on a large plot a few houses down from them. He would be walking his dog to a nearby rose garden, as we talked about all kinds of things. A fascination with western ways and ideas and the everyday things around us and even in our lives, I think it was mostly with mine.
Now as we tried to fill the gap, we'd pick up on any subject bringing in other things it reminded us of which had happened during this time. My horizons had broadened and I could follow stories of his younger days. Things I don't remember him talking about earlier. What prompted him to talk of those things now, I wonder. His early days in Pakistan, the violence of partition, and later living in Kulu.
As I sat there now next to him I remembered an incident from the past, and started telling him about it. I saw him making an effort to follow -- as I happy with a chance to chat tried to broaden my story. He lost the thread, or realized he could not exert enough. I saw the interest fading in his eyes, and stopped. He did not prompt me to continue.
And like that we sat for many minutes, I wondering what to talk with him. The nurse came in with his tray of food. Welcoming the activity, I too ordered a lunch. We sat then in the quiet, something unlike how it ever was when we met outside. My lunch arrived and we ate from our respective plates. When we were done I told him I'd meet him now only when he was out of the hospital. He agreed with that.