The Old Couple

  What is the joke? asked my husband who noticed me smiling to myself. I remembered what the washerman had said this morning. I found what he said not only amusing but also thought provoking, I said. 

 What did he say? asked my husband.

 Well, all along I thought one judged a person’s age by the way one looked. I’ve realised only now that looks are only superficial, I said.

 I am surprised that it took you all these years to realise something as simple as that. Don’t you know that one is as old as one feels and not as old as one looks? he said.

 No, even that statement is not true because people have their own criteria of referring to someone as “old”, I said. 

 O.K. tell me what the washerman has said that amused you? reminded my husband.

 I had asked him to deliver a letter to our neighbours residing in the next block of apartments and mentioned the couple’s names. He didn’t seem to understand which couple I was referring to and began describing the residents of each apartment and I said I meant none of them. 

 Amma, that leaves only one old couple who live on the ground floor, he said, emphasising ‘old’. But I don’t know their names, he added. 

 Yes, they are the ones but they are not so old as you seem to think, I said but I could see that the fellow was not convinced.

 What makes you think they are old? I asked out of curiousity.

 That’s obvious amma, both of them said they have retired from service. Only old people retire and do nothing, don’t they? he asked innocently.

 Yes, there is an age limit if you are working for the government, but not so in the private sector, I clarified. 

 Now I think I must continue working, otherwise that fellow will refer to me also as old, quipped my husband who had been threatening me that he would call it a day and take it easy. 

 N Meera Raghavendra Rao

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