I have read a number of articles discussing the present day perennial topic on the woes of the aged in India with great amusement. Please don’t imagine that I am a youngster at the threshold of life and looking at the seniors contemptuously or derisively. Let me clarify that today I am also a senior citizen by Indian standards and in addition, I am also a bachelor who do not have sons and daughters settled in the foreign lands or India with hefty pay packets to support me.
Though I have been brought up in a close knit joint family, after witnessing the ugly fights, misunderstandings and shirking of responsibilities and ill treatment of the helpless parents by my siblings and relatives, I decided to remain single and take care of them. I am not ready to call this as ‘sacrifice’ or some lofty terms; it may be called purely on humanitarian grounds and to have two meals a day with piece of mind instead of witnessing ruckus at home for anything and everything. I now know very well the advantages and disadvantages of being alone and in a joint family. Please do not think my views are biased, therefore.
Unfortunately, most of the aged in India compares the life style of their western counterparts in the US and other countries completely forget the Indian family culture and living style. In the developed nations, once a boy or girl attains the age of 18, they become an individual and try to take their own decisions about their life, be it professional or personal. True, there are parents in these countries also who advise their children; and the children who give an ear to the parents’ views and guided by them. But, generally speaking, the parents become alone once the children become an adult.
Are we like that in India? From getting an admission in engineering or medical college paying huge sums of money as capitation fee to the grand conduct of marriage of the daughter, the parents take up all responsibilities and try to influence their children to follow what they say at every stage. Well, most of the younger people today do not listen to their pep talk and interested only in the wealth and property is totally another issue.
Further, even those who have settled abroad permanently, buy many properties here in India to be taken care of by their aged or ageing parents. Is that necessary? Many of the assault on the senior citizens are induced by the wealth and gold they keep at home. Why not leave those also to their children and lead an austere life in India? Has it not been mentioned in our Vedas, Sastras and Puranas that for the elders there is something called ‘Vanaprastham’ after ‘Grahasthasramam? Our expectations and undying desire for pelf are our own enemies.
We have to change with times whether we like it or not; the same parents only encourage their children to go and settle abroad and make them to be mercenaries. When this reflects on them they feel hurt which is absolutely preposterous. Let the elders like me learn to live with difficulties.
After all, the path of life will never and need to be fair to everyone all through.