May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young. ~ Bob Dylan, Forever Young.
Saturday before last, I was at the Amadeus, NCPA, a lovely restaurant off Marine Drive in Bombay that serves Spanish cuisine. It was my aunt’s seventieth birthday and she had decided to bring it in, in style. A little band, a lot of sangria and paella and creme brûlée to go. That night, as my uncle sang Elvis Presley’s ‘Teddy Bear’ to her, and then they danced to Dylan’s ‘Forever Young,’ I realized I was born into a family of greats. Ordinary extraordinaries who never gave up on life, gave it many chances, and lauded it along the way.
As I reveled in the celebrations, I knew it was an honor, and an obligation. I couldn’t just watch generations of my family never grow old, I had to remain forever young too.
I had to dance with abandon, sing loudly still, and keep loving: no matter what life threw at me.
And mostly, I had to forgive.
That night as I watched an old aunt converse with an old lover, yet so content in her present, I saw in her life, a second chance. As I watched an old man walk up to a former wife in a chance meeting after twenty-six years, I saw in him, healing. And, as I watched a joyous son celebrate his mother’s second chance at love and marriage, I saw in them forgiveness.
Life is a gamble. The sort of gamble where you can never be too sure to count your blessings, for you can never tell what will come knocking at your door. And, the sort of gamble where you can never tell somebody what to do, because even when it comes to you, one day, you may never know what hit you.
Last week, as I watched yet another marriage crumble, and a young girl delirious in pain, I wanted to show her these happy faces at seventy. I wanted to take her with me to a seventieth birthday party full of people with happy smiles, and not as happy lives. I wanted to show her the grace with which they had accepted. And, the naivety with which they had celebrated.
As if life didn’t add up, and life didn’t need to.