I know of several men who started doing gymnastics at 40. It’s because they ditched their wives and are now dating much younger women. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to tell who they are. Their clothes are much sharper. Suddenly they have waistlines. Their hair is darker than you remember. But they are also gaunt and hollow-cheeked. They are extremely ripped, but slightly haggard.
I love watching them at buffets. When they spot the lachha parathas, a variety of expressions flash across their faces in rapid succession. Sometimes they have to bite their lower lip to keep it from trembling. They take a few steps forward, and then they step back. It’s like watching great cinema. Given the opportunity, I always load up my plate and join them for a spot of conversation. I try to help them in other ways, like asking about gym fees, and whether they’ve gained a kilo or two since I last saw them. They need our help.
Going around with a much younger woman must make them feel younger, but it comes with many challenges. Society has been constantly raising the bar, and these men have to live with the knowledge that right now, as we speak, their girlfriends are checking out Tiger Shroff on Twitter. Frankly, I’m very disappointed with Tiger Shroff. He seems like a nice enough boy, but he really should be thinking about the consequences of his actions. He is setting impossible standards, especially for men over 40. If some of them have heart attacks on the treadmill, or rupture their spleens, we know exactly who to blame.
In cases where the young lady works out too, the situation is even more perilous. I have a friend who has recently started seeing a yoga instructor, and I fear for his life. I understand their motivation. They want to look younger. But I’m not sure that their efforts are working that well. Some of these men were quite handsome, with an intriguing whiff of decay. One of them, a management consultant, used to be pleasantly roly poly in a very Uttam Kumar, Bengali-movie-star kind of way. Now, he is gaunt and skeletal. In Bengali movies, he would now be the fiend who tortures the hero, under instructions from the heroine’s father, or the British. The director would expect him to sneer. Every time I see him, I feel like I should feed him something.
No one deserves to live like this. This is why you need to keep a close eye on your middle-aged male friends, so that you can stop them from making this mistake. It begins with the hair. If you come across one of them buying hair dye, take it away from him immediately. You may face a bit of a tussle, but eventually, he will thank you.
In Shovon Chowdhury’s most recent novel, Murder With Bengali Characteristics, all the members of the Chinese Politburo have jet-black hair