Growing old not so hard to do

I have spent most of my life scared to death of old age. When I was a little kid, I came across an old man - probably the oldest person I had seen to date - who was blind.

I have spent most of my life scared to death of old age. When I was a little kid, I came across an old man - probably the oldest person I had seen to date - who was blind.

I don't know if I was told this, but I was convinced that when you grow old, your hair goes grey, then you walk with a stick, and eventually go blind. It was only later in life that I realised I was wrong. Ageing can be dignified fun.

I was not alone in my fear of old age. There was an auntie in my neighbourhood who was called, behind her back, Gugamzimba sala nhliziyo. Loosely translated, this means the body gets old but the heart pines for youth.

She walked like she was doing the waltz - making exaggerated sways of her hips. I wondered how she managed to keep her balance, walking on gravel in those six-inch, spiky high heels.

Rumour was that she was as old as the mountains, but still, she was the first adult I saw in a tiny mini-skirt when it was considered "immoral" dress.

I once got quite close to her and saw peacock wrinkles on her neck. She was panting like she had just ran the Comrades - I am sure she was tired from swaying her hips hither and thither, while also trying not to fall.

Why, I wonder now, did Sis Guga subject herself to such unnecessary torture?

A semi-retired journo-cum-jokesmith tells a bitter-sweet story of an old friend of his who fell ill and ended up in hospital.

The sick friend was fashion conscious and had a mountainous mop of pitch black Afro hair on his head. He seemed to be imbued with the gift of eternal youth.

His friends called his wife to arrange to visit him in hospital, but she thanked them and said he was okay - the visit was not necessary.

The friends decided to disregard that and went to the hospital.

When they arrived they were stopped at the hospital reception and asked to identify themselves. The nurse went in and returned to tell them "the old man" was not able to receive visitors. Could they please go.

They were baffled, but could do nothing about it.

As they shuffled out of the hospital, they walked past their friend's ward and peeked inside. They could not believe what they saw: There, perched up on a bed, was their wide-eyed friend.

He looked fine, except for the hair. That pitch-black Afro was white as the driven snow! He looked like he was 100 years old. The sick friend seemed paralysed for a moment or so, and then reality struck him, moving swiftly like he had seen God's face, he grabbed a blanket and threw it over his head.

Too late. The penny had dropped. He did not want visits because his hair dye had worn out. He was an old, old man playing young.

Strange how some people want to be called grootman and suster, but want to remain boys and girls forever.

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