Old Is Gold
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 9 Jul 2018
Today this expression would not be accepted by most people around the world for the simple reason that old may be associated with old age which becomes weak and degraded as the years pass.
Gold is however a material that maintains its color and brightness even after long duration. In fact this is why people collect gold in jewellery or in any other form. It is due to these properties that people buy it and store it or gift it to some dear ones. And if financial need arises, one can sell one’s gold for meeting the need for money.
But there are many other aspects — old memories of friends or songs or paintings where old is cherished. Talking of paintings who can forget the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci (1452- 1519) who painted Mona Lisa whose smile bewitches millions of onlookers. Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali are other unforgettable European painters whose works bring us joy and wistfulness. Then the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh who lead a troubled and penurious life in Paris, is today considered a genius for his masterpieces — Daffodils and his Self portrait. His works are not just paintings but reflect the anguish and pain he suffered during his lifetime (1853-1890).
Then there are scientists and scholars who are household names today although they may have lived hundreds of years ago. Some well known Scientists are Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Einstein, the Polish-French Marie Curie, who won two Nobel prizes in Physics and Chemistry, the American Richard Feynman and Bose and C V Raman of India, to name just a few well known scientists. They are all earlier, some ancient names but their contributions will never die — perhaps their memories will only enhance with time.
Countless writers such as Homer who wrote in Greek, Virgil in Latin, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jean Genet, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Bertolucci, Brecht, Ved Vyas who wrote the Indian epic Mahabharata, Valmiki of Ramayan fame, Tulsi Das who wrote (in Avadhi Language, old form of Hindi) the Ram Charit Manas, and hundreds of other writers.
Then the first grammarian and linguist Panini who wrote in Sanskrit and who is relevant even today, is another unforgettable scholar.
Everyone who is an elderly person has memories of one’s childhood— some funny, some prankish and a few painful. So old age is a time to remember these and occasionally to wonder “Was really me who did all these pranks?” Another occasion that one may remember with nostalgia is the first time one spoke in public or in a classroom giving a lecture to fifty odd students, and some other similar events.
I will not go into my follies or pranks, but I will recount an account of a machine that I possess which is older than me. Yes the machine I am referring to is a sewing machine made by the German company Pfaff. The Germans were outstanding manufacturers of various household gadgets including sewing machines. It is a pity that Germany destroyed its genius in countless areas including technology and science and philosophy during the WW II due to Nazi politics.
The Pfaff sewing machine which my late father had acquired about ninety years ago is in my family — working in an excellent manner even today. I salute the German spirit which has shown revival again after the War.
Yes, there are painful events such as the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and closer to India its Partition in 1947 when Pakistan was created along with thousands of people killed and millions of refugees including my own family.
Let us redefine our concepts of old age and old people. Let us remember some of them for their ingenuity and the joy and harmony that resulted from their works and lives.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. email@example.com
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Jul 2018.
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