by Pearl D'Silva
Our childhood is bestowed with time and care from our loved ones though our pockets remain empty. In our middle age we run behind money but have no time for our loved ones and in our old age when we feel it’s time to relax, most of us fail to get love from family and are left deserted in an old age home.
Joint family system has faded today and given rise to old age homes. As we grow up we tend to forget the love our parents showered on us, love that made our lives so beautiful. We forget the sacrifices they made and we send them to an old age home because we are ashamed to keep them at our houses or we do not find time to take care of them. Sad, isn’t it?
As part of my Rashtrapati Puraskar programme, I was fortunate to serve for two months at an old age home when I was 13. Every day we had to spend 90 minutes in the morning with them helping the inmates with their daily chores and the last 30 minutes talking to them. I would sit a little while longer as I liked to listen to the stories they would narrate about their younger days.
During my service, I had the prejudice that they must have been from a poor family and that they were here today because their families did not have enough money to take care of their expenses.
But to my surprise, I learnt that at least 60% of them were from a strong financial background. They were admitted to the old age home because their families did not have time to take care of them. Out of the many people there, I noticed one old lady who was gazing at a rose in the garden. She was staring steadily at the rose when a tear rolled down from her wrinkled eye. When I asked her why the flowers made her cry she said, “Human life is like this bright rose. Many people will come and glorify the newly-bloomed flower, but after a few days when its colours have faded, its petals withered and it cannot stand firm with its head held high, the same people will walk away without even heeding to its cry."
We then sat on a bench in the garden and she began to tell me her story. Forty years ago she got married and lived with her husband in a small village where they brought up seven wonderful kids. When the kids were going to school and the youngest one was just two years old her husband expired leaving behind his wife and the seven little children. Poverty struck the family as her husband had been the only bread winner. But she never gave up.
She got an opportunity to go to the Gulf and work for a better salary. Everyone told her that this was an opportunity God had given her and she must grab it without a second thought. But then she would have to leave her kids in a boarding school which she didn't want as the children did not have anybody other than her. She therefore chose to be with her kids.
She opened a small shop and managed to feed her kids and provide them with education. Her elder son got well settled abroad and took the other siblings to the Gulf and even got the younger sisters married. The mother stayed back in the village.Years passed by and her health deteriorated. She told her children about it but none of them had time as they were all employed abroad and no one wanted to settle down in the village to take care of the old mother. So they admitted her to an old age home.
As she was narrating her story, I just pondered over what would have happened if she had left her kids in an orphanage and gone abroad. Wouldn’t the kids be deprived of their mother’s love? Today the mother misses her children’s presence. She wants to hear the laughter of her grandchildren and tell them fairy tales but all that she is left with is utter loneliness.
Loneliness, insecurity and lack of companionship are some of life’s hard-to-swallow problems. Sadly, these have become an everyday reality for these elderly people whose children are far from their home for better career opportunities. It is not riches that old people want from their children. What they need most in the winter of their lives is the loving touch and comfort of the company of their near and dear ones. An individual slogs all through his life for the family with the hope that a day would come when he could just relax in his armchair telling tales of their youthful days to the younger generation. But that day never comes.
Young people with vigour and strength forget that the time is not far when they too may be in the same shoes. If you respect the ones who turned you into a fine being, then just hold their hand and lead them straight into your home. Help them live the last few days of their lives without the feeling of loneliness.
When they have done everything for your happiness, can’t you keep them in your home and show a little love and appreciation for the sacrifices they have made? Give a thought to this and make this world a beautiful one.
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