Of second childhood

Of second childhood

It was a warm evening. I was going for a walk when I met Raji aunty. It had been a while since I had met her. She looked quite tired as she walked to a nearby shop to fetch some groceries. “How are you, aunty?” I asked her. “Life goes on... My only prayer to God is that I be physically fit enough to do my work, and not depend on anybody until my last breath,” she replied. This crippling thought seems to be running through the minds of all senior citizens. I walked along with aunty and then entered the lift to take me to my floor.

“Wait, wait...!” called out my young neighbour, who was holding an office bag and a basket in one hand and her two-year-old daughter in the other. “Hi,” I said and, noticing her haggard look, asked if she was getting back from work. “Yes,” she replied and added, “From work, I went to pick up Richa from the daycare. It’s been a very long day.”

Most working couples with young children — school going, pre-schoolers or toddlers — somehow manage to juggle their work and home, by seeking the help of daycare centres.

This set me thinking. Why is it that we take caring for our children as a duty while taking care of our elderly seems to be a responsibility that’s dumped on us? I was reminded of Raji aunty telling me that her elder sister and brother-in-law had been shifted to an old age home because their three children couldn’t “manage” them.

If parents can go to any extent, including quitting their job, to “manage” their children, why can’t the children, too, ensure that the elders enjoy their second childhood? Maybe, we need “adult creches” where elders are taken care of during the day and are brought back home in the evening. Will this make them feel more secure and wanted?

What the second childhood expects is some communication with the kith, a gentle touch and the din of innocent pranks of their grandchildren. Just sitting with them and updating them of the day’s happenings will make them feel better. The younger generation too must proactively interact with them just as they used to do as toddlers.

When we could go out of our way for our children and put up with all their tantrums, how did that patience disappear suddenly in this generation? Is it because we are also losing out on our physical and mental energies?

Nevertheless, we are still younger than our seniors. They say children emulate the adults, so let’s not forget that old age is not going to elude us and we, too, are going to be in their shoes sooner or later. Let’s care for the old as we would a child and relieve their stress of being dependent on somebody. After all, life is all about inter-dependence.

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