Monday, April 20, 2009

What matters most.....

In a few cities in South India, there are Villas leased out to old people who are too old to take care of themselves or whose children are far away from them or who have no children to lean on.

In one of those villas, I had this chance to meet an old couple over the weekend. It was a bright summer afternoon. The walkway had a lot of lovely flowers and plants that gives the feel-good factor you miss often in crowded and noisy cities. I stopped near every plant to take in the wonder of nature in all its beauty.

It was a very small house maintained very well, given that the old man was 90 and his wife, 85 years of age. Indian hospitality was still at its peak, but given that we already had accepted a lunch invite, we agreed to have lime juice.

The old man is hard of hearing, but has a hearing aid on and asks you a lot of questions, his words so full of Life. After ten minutes, he excused himself from the conversation saying he was tired and retired back to his recliner, put on some nice channel on TV. He has a wireless head phone that has been tuned to help him hear the dialogues and music. When asked about his favorite programme on the television, he says, 'I don't have anything else to do, so anything that is audible and pleasant is okay with me. Besides, thanks to my old age, I wont remember anything for more than a few minutes. I have to do something when I am not praying, reading paper, eating, or sleeping. The only option I have is to watch television.'.

He is too old to walk, too old to hear, too old to speak continuously, too ill to sit up for long. All said, he wants to keep himself engaged all the time. He says he cannot have a 'Do-nothing' moment in life.

The old lady, his compatible wife, takes care of all her husband's needs and does a little walking exercise, so she can take care of herself to take care of her husband. I saw love there, a must-see for everyone who wants to even think of wedding. The enthusiasm she showed in plucking some lovely flowers for me and the interest she showed in knowing the truth about recession and IT and cost of living and all that amazed me to an extent, I cant even explain...

When I left the house, as per the Tamilian custom, I took their blessings. It was a totally joyful, and a very hearty wish. I cant forget their smiles. I accepted an invite to spend time with them and have lunch with them on my next visit. With old people, when you say, next time, they are not sure, but I had to leave.

We had spent only one hour and I saw that this visit made their day. We stepped out, and the old lady plucked two purple flowers for me and blessed me again, invited me again and smiled all the time. I walked some distance towards the gate of the campus to see other villas, expensively furnished but looked very lonely, and old people reading or doing something all by themselves.

With an unsure and unsettled thought, I looked back to see the old woman still smiling at us. I waved a bye and she waved back. My hand ached, but probably hers didn't, because she kept waving on and on till we moved out of the campus gate.

When I stepped out I couldn't smile as much, because, their grand children and children are not anywhere in a reachable distance to visit them. They are settled abroad -very well off, sending their parents a lot of money, and visit India once in a year.

The old parents do not need money more than their medicine expenses and their daily minimal needs. All they want is some time with their children. I could not help thinking about the time these parents would have spent for their children all their life.

Thanks to the compulsions in life that children and parents live separately and in this case, unreachable.

Sorry to say that old age is taken for granted most often and youngsters almost never realize that they will grow old sometime too.

Hey, stop thinking about feeling young at heart and all that.. However young you feel at heart, your body ages and you will need support. If you fall ill, you get weak.

I remembered something I read long back : Three things to respect : Old Age, Religion, and Law. I saw that the first of it is true.

My lesson:
Respect Old age and remember to treat a six year old and a sixty year old well always.

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