Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The final innings

Sunday was yet another wedding in the family in Bangalore. Hordes of relations had come down from Kerala. Some had come earlier, mostly the older folks so that they could visit the older folks living here. As I dutifully drove one such set of older people from one house to another, I was stuck by something. The older folks were a changed lot from their much younger version that I had seen when I was a kid. The years had smoothed away the rough edges, leaving beautiful people, devoid of jealousy, rancor and other human weaknesses that keep people apart. And replacing that was genuine happiness in meeting people, genuine happiness in their happiness, genuine concern at their well being and genuine happiness at their successes.

There was a lot of peace and calm in the car and it seemed to radiate to me. Another thing that stuck me about this generation was an obvious yet unnoticed facet of their life. They were all islands of two, with siblings around their age, similar islands stuck in a time warp that would have begun the day they got married. These were couples who had left their home and hearth as young men and women and come together to raise a family and then bid goodbye to their kids as they set off to seek their fortunes in the corporate world. Yet they were due to some societal compulsions, still living like a couple even though they could now afford to give time to people they could not earlier due to family and work commitments! And since all the older folks are in the same dilemma, it leads of a lot of islands living in avoidable loneliness and emptiness.

This post is not about, older folks being left alone, so please hold comments on the same! This post is about making a conscious change in older couples lifestyles after they have finished their parental and family duties. This post is about reconnecting with people you left behind or parted with, when you stepped out into the world.

I am not saying that couples should split and go back to their parental family members. But after we fly the coup, we should liberate our parents too, instead of keeping them locked up as guardians of the family property and thus condemning them to live as islands! It is surprising to see the number of lonely old couples in one extended family itself! If they could connect, their loneliness would be over for good and the company of people their age, will act like a friends circle, giving them a social life as well! Right now their only reprieve from loneliness is weddings and other family functions

And if it happens, wouldn’t old age be a looked forward to event? It would, for me. The very thought of spending time with my parental family members in my old age is a very warm and happy feeling indeed!

While I was discussing this with my mom the other day, she told me of a couple who were kept apart from their family as their kids feared that the family may brain wash them into parting with their property! The couple now live alone in Mumbai instead of their ancestral tharavadu like some of their retired siblings, exiled because of a Mumbai apartment, wasting precious years of what’s left of their lives away from their families. Such a sad situation! What a waste of time…and life. It’s high time we loosened the “family” grip from older people so that they can have a life of their own.

Getting back to the post...at the end of each visit, I watched the older folks, take leave of their siblings, tears in their eyes, making resolves to visit more often and eking out promises to call more often. And I felt bad that they have to say goodbye at all. If only they knew they had a choice! *sigh*

p.s it is obvious I guess, I love ze olde folks to bits! Just being with them is like living in a nicer world.

Dedicating this song to all those people, who are still young at heart!

12 comments:

Sriram said...

yeah, get togethers like wedding are so much fun because of the people who make it fun!

Prasanth said...

hmm...old age sibling peer groups! It is generally pretty true though. I too know a lot of people from my grandparents' generation who are reaffirming old ties and rediscovering the fun they had with their siblings.

However I do feel that most of these cases involve individuals who often left home(for the sake of their careers) pretty early, established their own households, saw their children take off and had relatively less difficult property settlements.

Another kind of family on the other hand(mine included) comprises a lot of people who stayed around, had very close connections to their ancestral property and soon grew to hold bitter grudges against a lot of their siblings. They would provide a completely different case altogether

Interestingly, the relationship between cousins from the first category is often really good whereas the descendants of the second group often keep quite a bit of certain grudges with themselves.

I am, I must declare here, in no way aspiring to a generalized theory on property and sibling relationship. :)

Philip said...

Hmmm...in-sourcing the Old Age Home. Very interesting concept.

mathew said...

I have noticed that myself..I was intially surprised when my Grandmother was insisting on visiting her maternal house as and when possible..i think your title says a lot, people do the finally innings based on the experiences and lessons learnt from a lifetime..of the futility of silly grudges and pretences..I feel a bit sad after reading this post, though i donno why..

Tedy Kanjirathinkal said...

... and unfortunately, I personally know a few old siblings who loath each other (sigh!) - the sight, the mention, even of their offsprings!

Such a waste!
And that too, based on misunderstandings from younger years!

silverine said...

Sriram: True! :)

Prasanth: Thanks for dropping by! :) Let the people with property problems stay away. But those who don't, can still make a life in their twilight years! :)

Philip: It is happening in Kerala, surprisingly! :)

Mathew: Yes, this is a chance for people to make their winter years into summer years! :)

Tedy: Let such people stew in their own hell! :) This is an incredible concept if implemented well!

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Interesting.

Anoop G said...

In my home town(changanacherry) all our relatives are very close by. My mother's two brothers and one sister stay very close ( within a half km range).

And that helps a lot.

Ms Cris said...

This was nice. People just forget to think... they are so used to cribbing about things not happening the way they want, they sometimes forget all it calls for is a little action from their side. Like you say, if only they knew they had a choice! Sigh!

Hari said...

After one has past his prime, (age-wise, that is); one tends to relive is childhood days and becomes more child-like! I used to be skeptical about this until I saw it for myself. Late-in-life Sibling bonding, perhaps, is a repercussion of such growing child-like-ness. :D

Abraham Menacherry said...

There is discussion going on in the family abt buying a chunk of land somewhere so that everyone can stay together there during their old age.

I personally dont prefer it though, distance makes the heart grow fonder is my philosophy...

silverine said...

Karthik: It is, isnt it!

Anoop g: Nothing like having your family around, if you get along well with them.

ms cris: Yes, people should mature with age, unfortunately most don't or don't forget past hurts!

Hari: Also due to loneliness and a seeking of like minded company! :)

Abraham: It is perfectly workable if the group is used to each other and were in touch along a period of time. They eventually smoothen each others edges out. But such arrangement has to be between mature people who can respect each others personal space.