Abandoned by children how old parents survive?

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 May 2018 09:10:12


By Anshuman Bhargava,

t is a growingly normal trend in modern urban societies to go for nuclear families and keep the old parents out of the exclusive ‘me time’ and the fiercely guarded family space. The physical and mental woes and miseries of old age are unfathomable, but in the magical height of youth and energy, the stark realities of life are conveniently forgotten. Indian culture and tradition has been to respect the elderly and live under their guidance and blessing through greater part of one’s life.

It was in the lineage of the guru-shishya parampara in which the young thought it a duty to learn all their lives from the elderly of the family. This mandated the prolonged association and togetherness that brought about the genesis of the joint family system. Today, even the West is realising the merits of joint families and trying to emulate such family pattern in their societies, given the growing numbers of disoriented and delinquent youth they are having to live in fear of.

But Indians, in their obsessive predilection for everything foreign, are adopting a regressive lifestyle, thinking it smart and modern. Abandoning one’s parents to the mercy of their fate is a moral and ethical crime, which merits no excuse. It is true that today’s youth are excessively busy in their lives due to professional compulsions and the possibility of quality family time is fast becoming a chimera. It is a precious occasion when one really finds some peaceful private time with his/her spouse and kids.

Any interference or mental occupation during those ecstatic times is unwelcome. But it also must be understood that parents, no matter how old or sick they are, are not intruders or headaches, but a part and parcel of life. If they keep one mentally occupied, they also enrich the family culture and instill in the kids the good values of life, which the parents often don’t have the time and patience to do. Grandparents lend a balance to life and add new perspectives from the depths of their experiences, which, in many ways, makes life’s battles easy.

Their advice and suggestions often prove pearls of wisdom, which fortify and equip one to brave the uncertainties of life with ease. Old parents soak in much of the social constraints and tensions, which the young face in their daily lives. Much of the contribution of the old is not overtly and immediately visible, but their utility works at a different level that gradually strengthens a family from its roots. Moreover, one must never forget the sacrifices parents make for their kids all their lives. They might not be remembered, but no child can grow up to what he/she is and what he/she has achieved without the constant support and sacrifices of their parents. Much of it is invisible, but it is in their absence that their need is realised. And the realisation comes with age, when it is too late to act.

Old age is a curse in itself. The mental exhaustion and the physical debilitations are killing in themselves. But the only thing that makes life worthwhile for them then is the time their kids give to them. This is the greatest gift parents can get from their children. If a person spends even a couple of hours a day with his/her old parents, it gives them enough reason to live.

Not everyone has the right resources or logistics to keep parents under the same roof. There are familial and/or financial compulsions, which don’t make it always possible for one to do what one wants. But, it is never impossible to take out some time, even if bi-weekly or tri-weekly, to spend a few minutes sitting and listening to the musings of one’s old parents.

That is one great service, which is often ignored or considered insignificant. It is not money that an old person wants or needs. It is affiliation and appreciation that makes his last days precious. It is payback time for the children, who have once learnt to stand and walk holding the fingers of their parents.