A Portrait of Ageing is a collection of essays that are poignant ruminations on the process of ageing. Through narratives about one’s experience with ageing and stories about seeing loved ones getting old, these essays tenderly address the vulnerabilities of losing youth and approaching the evening of life. The essays are a call to acknowledge the frailty associated with losing physical vigour and a strong voice to accord dignity and not invisiblize the old in our society. A delicate reminder about the inevitability of getting old and the fragility of human bodies at the mercy of time, these essays offer hope yet they leave one with some disquiet and a tinge of melancholia.
The book begins with ‘The Last Stage’, an essay by Romila Thapar who traces the concept of ageing in religious texts and shines light on the complex ways in which ageing has been approached in such religious and philosophical discourses. From the myths of miraculous fountain baths to theory/concept of karma and ashramas, Thapar argues how ageing, death, and questions of whether soul has continuity after death are something where meanings abound.