“Remember where do you belong”, Obama Sr. wrote to Barack Hussein Obama, while he was pursuing law in the U.S. He pondered, “Where do I belong? Born in Hawaii, brought up in Indonesia and now studying in America”.
Where does he belong? Father wrote from Kenya. It is clear; he meant not to forget that he belonged to Black Kenya despite his mother being an American White.
So, belongingness has many connotations. You belong to the country you hail from, to the religion inherited from parents or adopted later, to the locality you reside, to the profession you are in, political or any party affiliated to, or as member of any club or society and so forth down to the family of smallest unit. All point to the external sources of your belongingness.
Astronaut Suneeta Williams while piercing through the vast expanse of space feels she belongs to Earth and not to any country, religion, group or such other narrow confines.
But, have you ever thought when do you belong to yourself? I never did in my life. Recently, I met an octogenarian friend – 82 to be exact – living alone. His wife died of breast cancer, a decade back. He has two daughters; one resides at Laxmi Nagar – about 8 kilometers away - the other is in far off America. Six months ago he had terrible fracture in the right femur bone. An inserted steel rod helps him to stand erect and walk - limping with a stick. Casually, I paid a visit to him.
Newspaper headlines screams, over 70% of elderly in the capital and the NCR suffer from abuse and loneliness. So, my plain question to him was, “Don’t you feel lonely?”
His crystal clear answer was, “No, I don’t.”
How do you manage?
I have many diversions: I write; I watch TV; read news paper, play chess, do homeopathy and I cook. I don’t feel lonely. And, at times, when I am fully alone – I feel that is the time I belong to myself.
He writes well. His short pieces bring delight to the readers of community news letter on regular basis. He participates in story telling sessions. At this age he is never in short supply of zest to contest in the periodic chess tournaments. He distributes homeopathic medicines to the needy.
What a grand thought: belonging to nothing but to one’s own self. It never occurred to me nor have I heard from anybody so far. I am a real frog in a well. With my crude way of thinking, probably, I couldn’t grasp the full significance of the idea too. All the time we seek out external objects to be identified with, but never for a moment, pause to look inward and get merged with oneself – fully subsumed with infinity. Where is the time to feel lonely?
Of course, I am aware of other conflicting views on the topic. To me, this is certainly a novel way of conquering loneliness – the common scourge of the modern elderly.
Any lonely soul listening?