I MUST have been in the Upper Sixth Form when my father turned 55 and, as per government regulations then, had to retire.
He must have been crushed but showed no sign of it. Undaunted, he just went out and got himself another job and kept on working until my younger brother and I graduated. Only then did he retire.
To my father, age was simply a number. Now it turns out that he was right.
According to a recent World Health Organisation study, using chronological age as a measure of ageing was, in this brave new world of ever-increasing life expectancy, “simply irrelevant.”
It turns out that all my classmates – and, ahem, yours truly – are, according to the WHO, still “young.”
I say bless this noble agency and let’s nom- inate it for the Nobel.
Here are the WHO’s new definitions, according to its 2017 study.
Zero – an anticipatory gleam in the father’s eye. OK, the WHO’s just kidding. Up to 17: underage.
Eighteen to 65 – The youth or young people. And to think that when I turned 60, I informed my wife that I was now officially a sexanagerian to which she replied that “it was disgusting” and, “at your age, you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Sixty-six to 79 – middle age. Now we can understand why Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz has taken up scuba diving. She’s just past her youth.
Eighty to 99: The elderly or the senior citizens.
One hundred – long lived/elderly.
The problem is, the world does not seem to recognise these categories. I have a neighbour, a retired judge actually, who’s so old that carbon dating of his first set of diapers traced it back to the Ark.
As I was saying, people are just prejudiced. The other day, said neighbour was having breakfast at a nearby eatery where he asked for a three-minute egg. They asked him for money upfront.
You see what I mean?
Doctors are no better. They say regular naps help to prevent old age especially if you take them while driving.
Doctors always tell you things with such confidence that you just feel like believing them. My friend is like that. His doctor told him that jogging would take years of his age. I think the doctor’s right. He looks 10 years older.
I had a friend when I was in the university and he had some interesting thoughts about ageing. Back then we were 20-something and we give didn’t give a hoot about what the world thought about us.
Then we turned 30 and became really worried about what the world thought about us. Then we turned 40 and realised that the world had never thought about us in any way whatsoever.
But let me get back to the interesting thoughts of my friend with respect to ageing. His theory was that to retard ageing a person had to age as slowly as he possibly could. In short, one had to lead a boring life to retard ageing.
His reason was simple. When a person is bored, his time passes slowly. The minutes drag by and it takes an age to complete a day. And that, he concluded triumphantly, is what makes a long life.
You had to admire his reasoning. And what was the difference anyway?
A person does not smoke; doesn’t drink; eats slowly and in moderation; exercises with the best of them and what happens? He dies anyway.
You might as well have another beer. Have a great life and have some fun along the way. You see, no one gets out alive.