Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hamare Buzurg

I have written on this before, but the fact that senior citizens are our most precious assets seems still a much ignored subject of debate although there are a couple of good messages circulating on the internet in this connection, yet there are issues concerning the aged which need remedial measures specially in the context of the present fast-paced lifestyle where there is hardly any time left to devote to any "non-productive" activity. Every small second is valued in terms of the rupees (often calculated in dollars) earned during that time!

It is quite an irony that in a country like India the young have to be reminded through messages on the net to value their elders before it is too late. In our country where even animals have a place of respect it is a pity that elders should become something of a liability.

This afternoon two volunteers from a reputed NGO visited my place and gave some glaring statistics on the unsympathetic way families treat their elders and among those elderly destitutes the fortunate ones are those who find an obliging Home for the aged to look after them after their families have disowned them in their twilight years.

Do we take our elders for granted ? Have their needs ceased to be a matter of priority for us ? Why cannot we accomodate them in our busy schedules ? It is not always easy to find answers and it also is not always possible to do as much as one would like to do for one's elders, specially one's parents. Another important point is that often individuals like to be in the company of people who share common interests with them and are in a similar age group. I realise this as I see my elders interacting with friends and relatives of their age where they have so much to talk and exchange notes.

But having said this, it is of paramount importance too that our elders don't feel neglected by the younger members in the family. As I also keep repeating very often that in this imperfect world there are no ideal situations, I must admit that one has to work hard to strike a balance in life and list one's priorities with a rather-difficult-to-achieve mix of intelligence and emotion. Let us realise this : one of the biggest luxuries that one can have in life is one's elders...their prayers for our well-being comes for free and from their heart. There is one more luxury that most people don't bother to check on : to have the time to spend with the family (including elders...just include them in your discussions on a holiday and see the contentment on their beautifully wrinkled faces! And its not thereaupetic only for them, often such leisurely exchange of thoughts brings about most unexpected solutions to problems also.)

It is not a bad idea I think to have "clubs for the aged" instead of "homes for the aged". Senior Citizens, like the rest of us, need a family. It is not by their own choice that the aged opt for living in the so called homes for the elderly. They have been part of the progess in the past and cannot be shunned or discarded as "unwanted nobodys" simply because they have retired or become frail. Lets not forget that time and tide wait for no one and time passes very soon when one is young and busy. One often realises with a startle as the time to see the fulfillment of responsibilities dawns and when apparently all duties seem to have been done. Before long then it will be our turn to don the "senior citizens" cap and hence it will be to our advantage if we set the right examples before it is too late for our gen-next to emulate...

Zohra Javed.

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