Project 5 – Old Age – Safeer Aziz

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Laxmi, a retired school teacher, feels that the biggest mistakes she committed in her life was to sell off her ancestral home and move into her daughter’s residence. The days of mental harassment that followed forced her to leave. With no money in her hand, she was stranded. Her meagre pension, fortunately, came in handy. She opted to move into an old age home.

With the rapid breakdown of the joint family, hundreds of Laxmi’s have been left in the lurch. If we think that this happens only in the lower strata of society, we’re mistaken. Old age homes with five-star facilities have emerged in many places around the world. They provide well maintained, spacious, luxury cottages amidst landscaped gardens with all modern facilities at a very high cost. Luxury old age homes have come up because many among the wealthy upper class are thrown out of their households. The reasons are the same. 1) They find it difficult to adjust with their offspring or 2) all their children are well-settled in foreign countries and they only keep in touch with occasional greeting cards or demand drafts.

To understand the full impact of what is being done, I’ll tell an incident which happened a long time back. A man went to his leader complaining that his father is spending his hard-earned money without permission. The father, who had broken his bones to feed the son and had sacrificed so much for the sake of the son got very angry. In reply to the leaders’ summons, he told his son..

Oh Son, We took care of you while you were a child. From the time you were born, We suppressed all my desires. We saved every penny for you; we spent everything for you. All our earnings were spent for your benefit.

When you fell ill, your mother and myself would also fall ill. You would get sick, but along with that we would also get sick. You used to cry in pain, while we used to cry seeing you in pain. You would not sleep because of your illness and we would not sleep seeing your illness.

In all these troubles, we woke up during the nights; we stayed awake for nights together; we faced all sorts of trouble; suppressed all our desires in our heart just to keep you happy.

And finally, we reached that stage of life, when our bones became weak, our health deteriorated, strength weakened, we expected that our child would take care of us, that he’ll be our strength, That he will be with us and he’ll give us the required help.

We gave everything for you, and when your time came, your face has changed altogether, your tone has changed. You have started talking as if we are your servants and you are our master. You are talking as if we are your slaves and you are our owner. You are talking as if we have not brought you up; you have brought us up.

Hey man, if you cannot fulfil your duties towards your parents, if you cannot be a son, Why dont you at least be a neighbour. This was said at a time when neighbours used to respect each other.

Today, there is no space for the elders in our households. At a time when they need company, they are thrown into old age homes along with others who are equally frustrated. They miss the intimate family relationship, which is possible only in individual households. They spend their whole life slogging it out for their children just to be pushed out of the house in their final moments. Consequently, they suffer from a sense of rejection in life. After all what have they achieved.

Friends, we are not growing younger. Think about this and remember, if we cannot be a true son, at least try to be a neighbour.

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