By Biraja Prasad Nath
One Sunday morning, I went for a pack of cigarette and saw an old man crying. From his dressing sense and attitude it seemed he is well to do person. I started conversation with him to know about him and the cause. I was surprised what he told. He was a retired Excise Officer and getting handsome pension and regarding his family – he had 3 sons and 2 daughters. All are well settled, highly qualified and holding prestigious positions in Government and Private sectors. After knowing all the facts, I asked why he is so unhappy and crying. What he told really surprised me and forced me to think for couple of minutes – are we really growing as a country, human being and is it our culture?
He has been staying with one of his sons who is a professor and they do not bother to take care of the old man, even never bother to talk with him, ask for food – just treat him as a waste material that does not have any value. He has been treated this way since couple of years (after his wife expired) and trying to adjust with the situation, however on that day the situation worsen and unbearable for him. Since Saturday night he has not taken any food as his son and daughter were busy for a Swami (Baba). Due to his old age (when asked about his age, he told 85 years), he can’t go to ATM and draw money to buy some food. That was not the first time, many a times he suffered like this.
After long conversation, I asked what he wants to do and can I anyway help him. Initially, he was very hesitant and not willing to ask for any help/support (Seeing his age and condition, I could not leave him on that state). Finally he asked, if he can get a cup of tea (without sugar), which I arranged for him from nearby shop. And asked him to have some snacks – he agreed in one condition, he will pay the amount and I need to help him to get the money from his SBI Account. After tea and snacks – found him little bit relaxed and started talking normal way. Now, it’s time for me to discuss about his plan and what he wants to do – so I asked him. First thing, he wants some money (which I need to withdraw from his ATM), second he wants to go to one of the old age home (which he knows and one of his old friend also staying there). I had take a move from there and asked him to wait for 10 min, I need to bring my car.
At 12 Noon, both of us started towards the destination – reached near SBI ATM and asked him to fetch money from ATM. However, he asked me to get money for him and gave me his ATM card and password and asked me to draw twenty thousands and Mini Statement (he has handsome amount in his account). He thanked me. Proactively told - he is getting fifty thousand pensions every month and he gives twenty thousand to his son every month, spends five thousand towards medicine and rest all are his savings. We started towards the final destination (i.e. old age home near Sec’bad area) and finally reached there. I was surprised by seeing his body language (happiness and relaxed) – seemed he came out from Jail and now he is a free bird. We did complete the official formalities and he got his old friend and happy to stay there and not willing to come back anymore to his son’s house. I had lunch with them and spent couple of hours and told him - I got to take a move. Given my Phone number and promised him to come down as and when I have time.
Lighted a cigarette and started my car towards home. It’s a long distance from my home, due to Sunday almost no traffic. Taking puffs, driving and thinking each and every thing happened since morning. I was literally frustrated and thinking about his son (whom I know very well) – he is so gentle person and I never imagined he can behave this way with his father. From then onwards, whenever I see that gentleman I somehow don’t feel the respect I had earlier. But I decided, I will bring the topic and discuss with him sometime and one fine morning – I started conversation about his father and tried to know where is he ? He did not know that I know everything and I was the person who took his father to old age home. I knew what answer the person is going to tell and justify - which irritates me more is the most common reason cited for sending people to old age homes: compatibility issue. He said innocently, his wife and his father don’t get along well; hence he thought his father will be happy in old age home. This is really ridiculous and irresponsible justification.
Sometime back I got an opportunity to visit the old age home and found the old man is very happy and active. I interacted with couple of them and tried to know – what forced them to stay at old age home. I found, People in that old age home were not poor economically. They were not orphans legally. What really touched me were they craving for love and affection. They were constantly saying “We are not poor. We are not poor”. When I spoke them, they shared their stories. Some of them have their sons and daughters in Hyderabad itself. Sons and daughters left them in this old age home as they don’t have time for these people in their busy life. Some left their parents in old age home as they are not compatible with their partners. Seeing all these I really feel that old age homes need to be banned. These old age homes are the jails of the parents of all senseless, inhumane morons. Strangely, these are special kinds of jails in which the criminals send the victims to the jail. What in the world is more important than the parents? Parents need children every time and they need them more in their old age. Old age is the age where they spend their retired lives happily with the children and grand children. Grand Parents and grand children make a lovely combination.
Parents are a treasure - they need to be looked more carefully in their old age in particular. They are like babies who need lot of care and love. I don’t say that every person becomes god or mahan by default when they reach old age. However, age need to be respected and considered. We need to understand their acts and psychology too. Reason!!! We too are humans. We too are bound to become old. It’s a natural process!!! How and why should they adjust in new place far away from family? Why is that people just love their partners ….do they think that their partners are dropped from skies or do they feel that their partners are test tube babies??? Why can’t they have respect to the parents of their partners? If people have respect for their own parents and the parents of the partners…the necessity of old age home does not arise.
Take some time to speak to your parents. Tell them that you care them. There is nothing wrong and mean in showing your affection to your parents, after all they are your parents. Pledge that you will never allow any son/ daughter to send their parents to Old age homes.