By Sharan Saikumar Jan. 15, 2019
The View at 40 is a weekly column on ageing ungracefully. This week, we discuss the new year, which barges in every January, demanding that you become better. It demands of us things that I’m not sure we have left anymore, and in return it offers only kale smoothies.
If you’ve noticed, halfway through the first month of the New Year, something strange begins to happen. Two weeks of jumping on and off treadmills and chugging kale smoothies for breakfast, you begin to sprout a halo. No really. Your skin shines like it’s sprinkled with moon dust, your gut is flush with good enzymes since you’ve stopped Swiggy-ing on speed, and you’re all zen now that you’re abstaining from all drinking, abusing, drugging, outraging, bingeing, and sexting. You’ve even organised your house into Marie Kondo’s wet dream and acquired a shit load of serenity.
At this point you’re barely even human. You’re a bundle of good karma cruising on the highway to nirvana, expected to check right out of the birth cycle at the next exit.
And then, two weeks later, you wake up on Sunday morning with your head in the toilet bowl, throwing up the 3 am butter chicken roll from Sigdi. Your golden skin is now splotchy from the heat of the booze that has replaced the blood in your veins, and all your noble intentions are sprawled on the bathroom floor with you.
If anyone so much as mentions kale at this point, you will choke them. Your body only wants aloo fucking puri. As you lean over for another round of purging, you do the math. The new you lasted exactly 14 days.
If anyone so much as mentions kale at this point, you will choke them.
The new year is a fairly aggressive thing. It barges in every January, pushing its face up in your business and demanding that you become a better person. It demands of us things that I’m not sure we have left anymore, and in return it offers only kale smoothies. It demands that we wipe up all the mess we’ve made of our lives in one smooth stroke and begin afresh with a delirious energy that is fucking hard to summon at 40. You don’t want a new you. Hell you barely even wanted the old you. You’re done with optimism and the hope and all that other bullshit that the young relentlessly peddle these days. All you want to do is knock their milk teeth out. But you don’t, cause you might be 40 but your mother still slaps you.
Poopy, my three-year-old mongrel with liquid eyes, is wiser than me in these things – and most others. Poopy is a moody asshole who retains the right to either lick your face or just rip it off -depending on how his day is going. Everyone who comes into our home knows that it will be 50-50 – and they will just have to wing it. We’ve spent many training sessions trying to gently tell him not to do that to people’s faces, but Poopy isn’t buying. He has accepted that he was an unpredictable dick in 2018 but has decided to stick to it in 2019. Thank you very much. So at the stroke of midnight, while the rest of us were screaming drunken promises of turning over a new leaf, he was snoring on my sofa not giving a fuck about leaves.
Neither was my 11-year-old son. He registered that a new year had arrived (he had three weeks of holidays to show for it) but he didn’t know what the fuss was about. He spent the last week of December with an overdose of screens (yes, I’m that sort of a mother and I’ve already issued a public statement to that effect, so save your outrage for Hardik Pandya) knowing with a calm certainty that January will arrive and they will be yanked away. He was too busy with Netflix to think about hope and all that he’s going to achieve in 2019. He showed zero interest in being a better version of himself. Perhaps because the world has still not told him that he’s not good enough.
It makes me wonder then, whether it is the exclusive privilege of the very young or the very wise to have escaped this toxic “new year, new you” business because the rest of us, it seems, are just chasing our tails (Poopy incidentally does not believe in chasing tails.) Because, you see the fact is that we already know our halos will soon evaporate. As the months roll by, we will not eat our vegetables, we will lie our way out of uncomfortable situations, make out with people we shouldn’t be making out with, and Swiggy the hell out of our dinners.
We will come to accept that we are irreparably damaged and that some days are good, most days are bad.
We will come to accept that we are irreparably damaged and that some days are good, most days are bad. On good days we will greet people with a friendly lick, on most others we will bite their face off if they piss us in anyway that is not even fully logical. That’s just the way we are.
And it’s not just us. The year that has just arrived, with all its edgy new promises, will behave badly too. There will be some truly bad movies (hello The Accidental Prime Minister), politicians will say epic shit, we will unearth scams we’ve not even dreamed of, and ugly, ugly news will flood our timelines. Goons will chase young lovers during Valentine’s week, the electorate will most certainly disappoint us in the General Election, the summer will burn us to a crisp, and the monsoon will certainly deluge us, but not before the drought spells disaster for our farmers. Also, Chetan Bhagat will write a new book.
Of course there will be good things too but when you sit on that bathroom floor – and yes we will all get there – you will humbly accept that most of it will be bad. 2019 is probably not going to be the year you will conquer karma or even make a dent in cellulite. At this point, you will barf again. But now, after barfing you will feel cleansed of your good intentions and of kale. And it is at this delicate stage, where you’re still hovering between life and death-by-hangover in a bathroom wafting with alcohol fumes, the old you will gingerly step over your prone body and sit on the toilet seat like an abdicated king reclaiming the throne and whisper into your ear – Bitch, I’m back.
And those will be the sweetest three words you’ll ever hear.