Empty nest beckons

Empty nest beckons

Joint families have given way to nuclear families signalling a change in the Indian family system. With this change, old values have begun slipping away. Children grow up to become independent and once they start earning, they move on to a new life. Daughters are married off and sons abandon parents to start their own families. Though this is unbearable for the parents, they learn to live by themselves so long as their limbs are active and mental faculties are working.

Children want the parents’ care and time while staying with them. But after marriage, only if both husband and wife are working and they have small children, whom they can’t take care of or if the couple can’t afford the cost of a domestic help or a nanny, then they choose to live with the parents. When working abroad, children invite their parents to live with them only if they are in good health and can work and provide the required help.
A stage comes in everyone’s life when age catches up and there is no energy left to live an independent life. Chronic diseases may strike and sometimes these diseases debilitate people to the extent that they cannot be on their own. At this stage, they required to be taken care of like a baby. But sadly it is in this stage that he or she is not wanted by anybody, including their own children.

Sometimes old parents are forced to alienate their property and wealth unwillingly, forcibly or by stealth by the heirs or relatives. Even if the old people resist this, they are made to sign fake wills or probate papers when their mental faculties have become dull. If this is the case of those who have some property, then think of the have-not’s, who have lived by earning on daily or monthly wages with no social security and pension. Their condition is pitiable.

I recall my own mother who died at the age of 93 in 2012 stretching her hands towards the sky and begging God intermittently to deliver her from this world although the children and children-in-law did their bit on a sliding scale. The concept of old age homes is gaining pace in India. Now, either people themselves head for old age homes or their children force them to spend the evening of their life there. In fact, when at a terminal stage of illness, old people are so fed up, that they wish to die and they pray that it happens at the earliest.

Old people are a liability for everyone. Fewer to be said of ordinary citizens, I quote the example of late President of India Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy himself spent his last days in a Sindhi old age home called Anandpur Trust in Bangalore. If this is the condition of the President of the nation what will be the fate of an aam aadmi. Will the young India wake up and live by the old values? Because decades down the line they themselves will be a liability to their children, once they are old and inactive. The time for urgency is now.

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