The other day I was trying to have a phone conversation with a young lady (a relative’s relative!), who has recently been blessed with a baby. She happens to be older than me in age but younger by relation! (in case you are confused, you can consult my MIL, and I am sure she would leave you more confused)
Coming back to this young lady, whom I have met all of two times in life; I began the conversation with usual greetings. To show appropriate reverence I suffixed a ‘ji’ to her name, as I am habituated to do. Now ‘ji’ (equivalent of ‘san’ in Japanese, ‘sahab’ in Urdu, ‘senor’ in Spanish) sounds like ‘di’ (loving name for an elder sister in Hindi) and can easily be mistaken over the phone.
Seconds later, this young lady sprang up with “O, please don’t call me di, I am younger to you by relation… blah blah”.
Unfortunately I had not practiced my words and their phonetic sounds before this call (regretting now, I should have). I tried to explain that I hadn’t meant the loving ‘di’ but instead the distant revering ‘ji’, but to no avail. She kept proving her point of how she was younger to me and how by law, I was elder to her, etc.
I realized I had stirred up a hornet’s nest.
Lesson - Making a woman realise her age is a formidable mistake! Don’t ever do this unless you want her as an enemy for life (this coming from a woman!)
I conceded and said, “I know you are the youngest of all (may be -30 years old!), don’t fret, I won’t call you by any name at all (on second thoughts, I don’t think I’d ever call you again!)”
After a few more seconds of setting her age right and reclaiming her youth, she allowed me to move on. I continued with my congratulatory wishes for her new born child. There was silence for some time (think she had the sad realisation of becoming a mother which implies she was a grown up) and then I could hear her thank me coyly.
To my relief the conversation came to a close in few minutes.
I was left thinking – doesn’t age signify wisdom and experience which in turn signifies a sense of responsibility and superiority, almost always. If I am 61, you are 59 – how does that make you a better person than me? In fact, I am sad for you as you still have to work another year whereas I’m already enjoying retirement!
Why is age such a big issue for people. And if you think it is only women who get frantic about this, I would like to remind you of the recent age controversy of the Indian Army Chief, V. K. Singh.. where he dragged the state to court for proving he was younger by a single year. Well, at least he had greater interest in his pursue of youth! :)
How about the rest of us getting touchy about the subject? What greater good does it hold? I fail to understand how an innocuous “aunty” from a child can sound like a slang to some women. And pat comes the famous retort “aunty mat kaho naa” ;)
P.S. This post is not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings, so please don’t get emotional. To prove you have not taken it to heart, you can disclose your age in the comments section ;p