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A gang of girls: shedding age with the elixir of sorority

They met at the mall for an afternoon of shopping and created a virtual ruckus as they hugged and greeted each other, excitedly talking, all at once. The amused looks of fellow-shoppers did not deter them from their very public display of affection.

The shopping spree had been planned in advance and the agenda was clear. First was a trip to the make-up lounge where they debated and tried different ways to cover blemishes. Practical tips were shared, as were opinions on what worked and what didn’t. All of them had picked up tricks along the way and were aggressively advocating them. Then the scene shifted to a garment store where they helped each other choose appropriate clothes in sync with their changing bodies and persona. They picked clothes off the racks for each other and critically appraised ‘the look’ generated, all the while giggling, but still being brutally honest.

Tired by numerous visits to the trial rooms and the constant teasing and leg-pulling, they retired to a cafe where they shared coffee, taking sips from each other’s cups and sharing sandwiches. The bill was divided with equal precision and the one who graciously offered to foot the entire bill received a resounding snub. After another session of shopping in which a small ‘contributory’ gift was bought for one whose birthday had just passed they left, exhausted, exhilarated.

Dinner was hosted by one of them in her club. The final destination was her house for a ‘sleep over’. Changing into comfortable pyjamas, they got ready for the party. Some made themselves comfortable on the bed and others flopped on the mattresses laid on the floor. They spent the entire night chatting over countless cups of tea. Some dozed off, only to wake up with a start as no one wanted to miss the proceedings. The topics for discussion were varied. They shared recipes, voiced fears, recounted anecdotes, aired disappointments, confided future plans and celebrated achievements. No topic was taboo and they talked without inhibition or pretence. They offered each other solace, advice, solutions and most of the time, just an empathetic ear.

As the morning light streamed through the windows announcing the arrival of a new day, they prepared to leave. After a quick cup of coffee they got ready for the homeward journey. Reluctantly, they bade farewell to return to their roles as diligent doctors, dutiful wives, doting mothers and dignified mothers-in-law, refreshed and rejuvenated.

This is a biannual ritual of which I am a part and we work hard to maintain its sanctity. Well into our golden years we try to recreate our college days on such occasions. The meeting area is off-limits for offspring and spouse, even the ones who helpfully offer to make tea! Once we are in ‘the zone’, tradition takes over, regression is complete and adult ‘niceties’ are frowned upon. We call one another by names only we are privy to and share our innermost feelings as we used to. After a while the middle-aged person in our heads is replaced by childlike souls. All of us work around busy schedules to make time for this tryst with our past because of its elixir-like property.

We carry our youth within and try to reclaim it whenever we can. As responsible adults we learn how to ‘act’ in public, and the process takes away the spontaneity from life. But for those few hours we know we won’t be judged for being stupid and petty, for ragging and bickering, and so we unburden. The de-stressing effect is immense.

We walk away with lightness in our hearts and a spring in our step. As someone rightly observed, “There is a child inside each one of us who comes out in front of people we are most comfortable with.” Dividing a coffee bill that comes to a paltry thousand rupees, helps return to this age of innocence.

manju@alifeextraordinarilyordinary.com


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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 6:34:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-gang-of-girls-shedding-age-with-the-elixir-of-sorority/article10331259.ece

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