Recently I was surprised by a senior lady praising me for taking care of my elders well. She introduced me to another lady and said, "Look at this boy, he takes care of his parents and his in laws very well. They all stay close by now and he is really a wonderful Son and Son-in-law". The other lady quipped, "Really? it is so hard to find children who take care of aged parents today. God bless you son, your elders are lucky!"
Was I pleased? Did this increase my pride? Am I feeling responsible? No... To be honest, I am pained. I am totally at a loss to express my feelings. Why should this pain me? Very simple, I have not seen anyone appreciating aged parents for giving their successful son or daughter the kind of upbringing they received. I have never heard anyone say, "What wonderful parents you have got, they have given you a life and all that you have."
Why is Parenting taken for granted? All those sacrifices the parents made during their lifetime never get mentioned. A son or a daughter looking after aged parents is considered a great charity! What a life are we living? Call me old fashioned; but I believe in joint families. I just can't imagine a life without my parents as well as parents-in-law. At least for now, I can't even imagine that. Illnesses, forgetfulness, tensions and pains come along with age. Differences do crop up due to generational thinking. But does that mean we have to stay separately? Differences can arise between peers and spouses too. Nuclear families scare me. Faced with some problem, I have seen people wilt under pressure. Nothing can beat the presence of a senior citizen who has seen life.
The support of a big family when in trouble is very crucial. I have seen this umpteen times because I live my life in a hospital. Some Muslims, who live with huge joint families are the ones who respect, love and take care of their elders the best. There never is a dearth of people to stay with the patient and the demand for Home-nurses is unheard of. I have seen elderly ladies weeping silently in solitude in huge air-conditioned Deluxe rooms and I have seen a whole family crammed in a single bed pay-ward to take care of the aged mother!
My eleven year old daughter hates it when my Mother or Father have to go out; even for a few days. She goes to sleep only after a mandatory story session by my Father. She misses my mother even if it is for one day. Yes, age, ill-health, debility and impending death do create the much needed ability to look beyond. We all know no human being lives forever. But as long as they live; isn't it right to be with them?
What a society we live in, where the busy children have no time for their parents? I know a family where two sons found it difficult to provide fifty rupees per day towards the cost of medicines for their parents. But the same people had no problems in spending double the amount on dogs; yes, DOGS! Life will never forgive them for what they did with their parents.
I expect no appreciation, no words of praise or awards for looking after my elders. It is the least I can do for giving me a life and a wife! Though it was a bit overloaded with melodrama, I definitely related to the Amitabh Bachchan - Hema Malini movie 'Baaghbaan'. Such incidents of children ill-treating aged parents happen every day and everywhere. I only hope, we realize the ultimate truth. We too will be OLD some day and might need support of our children!