That solitary existence

Indeed it is heart-wrenching to see men go through old age traumas.

While at a naval stint in Chennai, often I used to see a scrawny old man, on the side-lane of our street, staying all alone, with sons settled somewhere in far-flung areas. By way of offering solace, at times, I listened to his cathartic outbursts.

It looked like he was deeply attached to his wife, as he had treasured all her belongings as memorabilia. Though she had passed away years back, he simply couldn’t rip his mind away from thoughts circling her.

Once in melancholic tone, he had spewed out all his suppressed emotions. “In one’s hey days, one mayn’t relatively long for companionship, for you are then brimming over with loads of energy. Hence you feel you are kind of self-reliant. But strangely that is the time you have your spouse hovering all over you.

Ironically, when the body is old and susceptible to ailments, you lose out your life companion, at a time when you sorely need someone. According to me, the love between spouses is at its zenith, when physical powers decline. Since, it’s the emotional dependence, which fabricates strong bonds between them”. 

Indeed it is heart-wrenching to see men go through old age traumas. For, men unlike women, seldom advertise or vociferate their mental tumults. But what I admired in this man was his spirit of independence. He never wanted to foist himself on his self-centered sons, who were putty in the hands of their wives.

So, to keep himself always wrapped-up, he dabbled in multifarious activities, like growing veggies in his garden, indulging in poster paintings, teaching children in evenings, and visiting his equally old friends during weekends.   

During that particular stretch of time, I had once come down to Bangalore on month’s vacation. When I got back to Chennai, I saw his house being bedecked with flickering fairy lights, with a massive pandal pitched up near his place.

Throngs of people were bustling about too. Slowly I heard the staggering news that the old man had bid his final adieu to world. His sons had condescended to come over to conduct the death rituals, amidst all pomp and grandeur.

Saris and dhotis were extravagantly given away as charity. I wondered, when the old man was alive, and was desperately craving for the company of his sons and their family, these sons hadn’t done a fig to give him even jot of happiness or mental comfort/solace.

In fact, they hadn’t even bothered to visit him on special occasions, leave alone getting him a box of sweets. They were now busy making the ‘departed soul’ happy, instead of having made the ‘living person’ happy!

Truly, of what use are these ostentatious celebrations/charities, when the man was no more? Moreover of what use are these sons, (you find people hankering for sons even today!), who are more like marionette in their wifes’ hands, and aren’t of ‘blindest bit’ use to their parents? And hence virtually are like deadwoods!   

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