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!