Relative clause : Neglected elders
They are our parents, who gave years of their lives caring for us, nurturing us, putting aside their goals to fulfill ours; mothers who toiled for...
They are our parents, who gave years of their lives caring for us, nurturing us, putting aside their goals to fulfill ours; mothers who toiled for years, fed us, clothed us, wiped our tears when we fell or were hit Padmaben sits alone looking out of a window which faces a brick wall. If one were to look at her looking out, one wouldn't be blame for thinking that she had an interesting view of some distant garden or lake. She is concentrated and lost in thought. And she looks inward into her mind and memories as she looks out of the window in the dismal old age home in Ahmedabad. Of the many many values and traditions that we have lost in our mad scramble to grab the affluence of the West is our love and care for our elders. Recent studies of the elderly show they have become one of the most neglected and forsaken community. They are the target of crime � robbery, murder, rape, often at the hands of younger people they have hired to help them. Sometimes they need help but do not have the wherewithal to ask for it; they fall and cannot reach a phone, or they can't get out of bed. They cannot walk to the super market or the neighbouring store to get something to eat. Or switch on the heating if it turns cold. But why are they alone? When all our slokas talk of treating parents as our divinity, as gods, as gurus, who are these elderly who live such miserable lives? They are our parents, and those of our friends, people who gave years of their lives caring for us, nurturing us, putting aside their goals to fulfill ours; mothers who toiled for years, fed us, clothed us, wiped our tears when we fell or were hit. These are the people we have let down. Padmaben comes from an affluent family. Her husband ran a business in Ahmedabad. Both her sons are doctors, one settled in the US, the other running a huge nursing home in Ahmedabad. Three years ago her husband died, leaving the house in her name till she was alive and then to the two sons. But the sons convinced her that she didn't need it in her name, that it would always be her home, and that she should give it over to them right away. Doting mother that she was, she agreed. Things were fine for the first year, and she continued to live in the two room suite in the house that she and her husband had lived in for over forty years. Then Sukesh needed one of the rooms for his elder child's tuition and books � as a study. A few months later Sumant had twins. They disturbed the parents at night and they could not get a night's sleep in peace so a room was needed where an ayah could keep the twins. Would mother mind moving into the smaller room by the kitchen? No, it didn't have an attached bathroom, but then as she didn't have to rush to work or school in the morning, she could use the other bathrooms once everyone had left. But Padma didn't put a single thing in her mouth before her bath, and often got to bathe only at ten thirty or eleven. The hunger caused her diabetes to flare up, but she didn't think it right to protest. After all the children were working so hard. Slowly Padmaben found her space and living getting more and more constricted, till the day came when both her sons and their wives sat her down to say they had found the perfect old age home for her, where she could be with people her own age, where there was a small temple she could spend her time in, where the children's noise wouldn't bother her. No one visits her. No one asks her to her own home. So she spends her time looking out of the window. Remembering the times when she would wait for the children to return and nothing could tear them away from her arms. There are many Padmabens and bhais in our society. And many more in the making. In our 'busyness' we have forgotten the care and compassion they have nurtured us with, and all we can think of is our comfort and time. Have we forgotten that we too will soon be that age? (The writer is a popular danseuse and social activist)