‘What? But aren’t they too old for that kind of stuff? They’re going to make a fool of themselves!’
That was my reaction to a programme being organised at a local club – a fancy-dress competition for senior citizens.
‘What’s wrong with that? Not everyone would have taken part in such competitions as children. They’re putting in a lot of effort for this.’
There wasn’t much I could say to that. And so we decided to attend the programme. Although, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t embarrassed.
A red carpet had been rolled out at the entrance, leading up the room where the competition was being held. There were few people outside – the guards, cleaners, and an old woman with a begging bowl. I wondered how she managed to enter the gates, but I didn’t bother looking her way, as she noisily shook her bowl for alms.
The programme had already begun when we entered the hall. The audience was a fairly large one, and we made our way to the last row.
Three anchors took turns to speak to the audience. The chief guest was introduced, the traditional lamp was lit, and then a book, written by one of the members of the organisation, was launched.
Eventually, the competition began, and the first participant was called to the stage.
“We have a surprise participant today. He is ninety five years… young! Oh I beg your pardon – ninety six. Ladies and gentlemen, ninety six!” The audience began murmuring, and there was excitement in the air, as the old man slowly made his way inside, his frail body supported by a young girl, his face covered with a veil. And then he shook a bowl, full of loose change.
I was shocked.
Only a few minutes earlier I had seen him at the entrance, and given ‘her’ a cold snub. And there (s)he was. The oldest man in the room, dressed as a beggar woman! He could barely move, but he sure had a great sense of humour. I only hope I wasn’t the only one to be fooled.
The rest of the show tried to keep up with this exciting start, with ladies and gentlemen dressed up in colourful regional attire, and some interesting and hilarious dialogues. Everyone was cheerful and there was good humour all around.
But of course the evening belonged to the youngster.
And I came home wondering, who was the old one there?