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Age Is Just A Number Like A Jail Cell Is Just A Room

I used to think that wisdom came with age and the older people got, the more sense they made of life. That was before I experienced the misguided priorities of elderly leaders.

I used to believe that age was nothing but a number. That I could do anything and age wouldn’t be an impediment. Experience has taught me that age is everything about the number. In fact your age is like your personal identification number. It is society’s way of keeping tabs on your progress because it helps society to consign you into any two of the following categories; success or failure. Life is structured around milestones. When you die, they always tell us when you were born to allow mourners to come to conclusions about the worthiness of your life.

Your eulogy is basically your resume of accomplishments on earth. Those who want it to read well at the end of this life hit the ground running a la Tupac Shakur. Society generally expects you to keep the pace of life and that may explain why with every age attained comes the pressure to catch up with the pack. Accomplishments vary and every ten years the bar is raised. In the beginning, they will expect you to walk before you can run. Mumble before you can make sense. Soon after, your first words ‘mama’ will be anticipated. If you keep everyone waiting like Einstein did for four years, they might call you a slow learner.

At about 5 years of age you quickly realize that wetting your pants doesn’t provide the same comic relief it did a few years ago. After 10 years, children who will not have gotten their toilet training in order are herded off to special schools.

Between the ages of 14-18, girls are pressurized to try out sex but with the stern warning; don’t get pregnant. Any girl, who falls pregnant and bears a child out of wedlock, earns a soiled reputation. Boys on the other hand are told to test the equipment just to make sure it fires right. As always, the unspoken rule is, “Don’t get caught”.

Girls will notice that society can get increasingly impatient with an underdeveloped chest, hence the wonder bra. By eighteen, the world expects you to look and behave like a woman because it won’t be long before you are sold off. All boys should have gotten over the rudimentary details of sex by the same age and should have moved to newer life experiences like nicotine and booze.

At 20 it is considered ignorant to describe the taste of a beer as bitter. Girls are allowed to pick up the same habits later. Somewhere between the age of 26 and 32 they will be expected to takes sides. Do you choose to be a married, shackled woman or to be a free spirited, single, sexy and independent young woman blowing out the smoke of defiance?

Guys above 25 without gainful employment find that they are of little worth in the dating circles. At that age, every woman expects you to buy at least a round of drinks once a month. Between the ages of 18- 24 many women will believe, that there is such a thing as the perfect man. They will turn down numerous prospective lovers hoping to redeem their virginity by getting married to the ultimate lover and soul mate.

The same women will shift goal posts in their thirties when the wait turns weary. Wounding encounters with men over the subsequent years, will help them lower their standards somewhat to accommodate the plump bloke from yesterday who turns out to be the only man in your life who had ever said, “ I want to marry you” and meant it.

At 30, a woman can live with tires because you realize that bald, short, beer gut men have been pulling it off for years with great results. Across town though, the successful twenty eight year old is getting dizzy from the female attention he attracts. Success he recognizes is measured by the price tag on the material possessions. Young man in big brand new car equals success. A few years afterwards, the male vitals change from car, career and wallet, to size, physique and technique.

Parenthood is open for consideration between the age of 25 and 34. They say it important to grow with your kids. Cross 35 without any trace of offspring and everyone starts to show concern, “ Why don’t you want children?”

Everyone wants to grow up until they get to thirty six. Then panic sets in and much fuss is made to arrest the ageing process. At 40 some women realize that while they may be hitting some regular peaks sexually, men are sadly on the decline or too jaded to care.

At 50, it dawns on one that a career in Kenyan politics starts in one’s mid thirties and climaxes hopefully in Presidency at the grand age of 70.

At 60 just as one finally earns some relief with the last of your grown children married, new responsibility descends as the grandchildren are sent over as the parents sort out their differences.

At 70 one has so much to share but it gets dismissed as the whining of an old timer stuck in the past. By 80, everyone is just genuinely impressed that you can use a mobile phone or send an email.

At the grand of 90, the nagging concern becomes, “How long before he croaks?”

In the end, I suppose, we will have to defend our lives. The pertinent question remains, “What did you do with your time on earth besides growing old?”

Photo credit: takerootandwrite.com

Oyunga Pala is a Kenyan newspaper columnist. The blog examines the texture of everyday Kenyan life and the challenges of modernity and disillusion. The writings commonly feature the struggle of the Kenyan male to maintain integrity in contemporary society.

30 Comments

  1. Nizzy d Capitan

    Always on point Pala. I certainly want to be the successful 28year old.

  2. …..really touching story there OP…you put a meaning in the connection between age and number…

  3. Oyunga Pala!!!! Why did you quit writing for the dailies? you are an inspiration to all of us budding writers.
    This piece is awesome!!!!

    • Hi Magunga,
      I am back in the dailies, check out Crazy Monday magazine, Standard newspaper every Monday.

  4. Miss Dee

    Wow. Time to reflect . Lovely read

  5. The cycle of life.Lucky to be here but unlucky to stay here forever. Well penned.

  6. OP buddy…great read,loved it….age is everything about a number-I do agree with that too

  7. Wow. This is deep.

  8. An interesting read I must say.

  9. Japuonj Hosea Olando

    serious analysis of life and human development…. you are right OP..

  10. Perspectives of life

  11. Why lie, this is the ultimate truth.

  12. joeygath

    Always on point, never lost your edge!

  13. Always look around the bright side associated with life is one of my favorite words, as you do in your post you try never to only concentrate on the negative but also on the optimistic in every feeling along the way. Nice to read your posts, and also you bring lots of happiness into other peoples existence with them, continue to come with your great articles.

  14. Amimo Kwambo

    Generally, wisdom comes with age and that should make one mellow. I know of some children who are ‘wiser’ beyond their years yet still very childlike, appropriately so. So I guess it’s about life’s experiences. Nothing worse than a so called adult who chooses to weaver about life like a rebellious teen with self esteem issues.

    And as pointed out ‘…. misguided priorities of elderly leaders…’ supposedly with all sorts of motives. Key word- leaders. What about our elders? Certainly not the same thing/meaning?

    A good question ..what do we do with life other than grow old? Me, I am having a Private Party and God knows it!

    I

  15. Hehe, you got me cracking especially with women spotting tires in their 30s and lowering their standards on men and accept the fat plump ones. Hehe, absolutely hilarious.

  16. Hahahaha! So true. ..

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  18. Great post! We will be linking to this great content on our site. Keep up the great writing.

  19. “What did you do with your time on earth besides growing old?”- what a punch line classic good writing

  20. Wanga Odundo

    I just love your articles Oyunga. I have always loved them!!!

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  24. “Girls will notice that society can get increasingly impatient with an underdeveloped chest”……..likewise boys will with their incapability to timely unstrap a bra……
    Good piece man.

  25. This is nicely said. .

  26. Today on my birthday I got to read this article…thanks man I have now opened my eyes…. perfect birthday gift Pala…on point and bith ka pala

  27. Just how trapped we are with growing up that we forget the big picture. Clearly there is more to life that is yet to be explored and embraced by society. Nice piece OP.

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