The great Indian actor Dilip Kumar (real name Yousuf Khan) died yesterday at the age of 98. Some would say he was lucky to live that long in a country where most people die before the age of 60. But I saw two female relatives dying recently and both were more than 90 years old. Both had to endure years of suffering due to chronic illness and both must have fervently wanted to die every day. One could see that Dilip Kumar too was frequently in and out of hospital in the past five years or so.

I don't think I'd like to live that long. At the age of 77 my weight is the same it used to be when I was in my teens. In fact, my peers think I'm undernourished. But when I see people of my age and even younger who are grossly overweight and who walk as if one of their legs is shorter than the other, I'm glad I have such a strong will power. I always refrain from over-eating even when the food is free. I have gone to wedding dinners where I have not eaten anything, despite strong pleas by the hosts to at least partake of a sweet dish. 

What I dread most is being confined to bed, and unable to walk without assistance. I don't want to spend the last few years of my life in chronic pain. In fact, nowadays, my bones do ache a lot. Just after getting out of bed every morning I have to walk very slowly, lest I fall and injure myself. In fact, my late uncle Ahmed (who died seven years ago at the age of 77) did fall in the bathroom towards the end of his life and had to spend many days in a hospital. This is something I wouldn't want to happen to my worst enemy. Let's hope my final years are spent without hospitalization. My father was lucky, he was never bed-ridden, the only time he spent in a hospital were the ten days before he expired.