Ajoba, in his late 60s, is a retired person from a manufacturing company. Ajji has been a home-maker ever since she understands “marriage” – since just a decade minus her age.
Every day I have multiple “eyes-breakers” with them. In the morning, when I open the door to collect the milk bags, both of them are going for a walk; when I leave my son to school, they sit relaxly on their sofa enjoying breakfast and tea; when I leave for office, there’s a quick instruction of “go safe” for my ajji next door.
They do not believe in the modern – close doors and sit policy. Their home welcomes everyone with a smiling face – anytime of the day.
It’s been 6 months now that I know them and they have become our extended family.
I just love the way they complement each other, they understand each other’s need without uttering a single word.
They decided to go to an old age home and stay. Initially, I didn’t understand why was this even needed as a thought?
They do have 2 kids, both settled in the US. Neither the children want to come back to India, nor Ajji-Ajoba wanna go and settle in the US. Their children though, did buy a flat for these old parents – as a part of social responsibility.
I wasn’t at all convinced of this whole idea, still decided to give an ear to why they think it’s a great deal to be in an old age home. They have their own reasons. They had a struggle every day for cooking, cleaning home managing their needs on their own and so on.
They looked very excited about the shift. They described the old age home as a place with all the amenities they need – just under one roof. An ATM, Hospital, Medical Shop, Recreation Club and most importantly – people of their own age to mingle with.
The room they had chosen was a beautiful one room kitchen kind of arrangement, with tea coffee was just a button press away!
They explained me the ease they will have there with no tension to think of buying groceries or vegetables, no tension if maid doesn’t turn up, no worry if there are power cuts and they don’t find things in the dark.
Hmm, not such a bad idea, I thought for a moment.
With a lot of enthusiasm pumped in their blood, they left and I also happily waved a bye-bye to them promising that we will surely be in touch.
Few days later..
I started missing that elderly presence on our floor. In this busy world, you need someone to tell you that you need to have food on time, you need to pray etc etc and etc… :), isn’t it? Ofcourse, our parents do that. But practically, we have come far from our parents too..
I decided to visit them. They welcomed me with the same happy gesture. They looked content. They shared stories of how Ajoba was thrilled while playing Carrom with his “new” buddies after many years, how Ajji goes to temple with her new girl friends 😉 How they loved that small picnic to Japanese garden! And yes, not to forget, the coffee was really a button press away. The well dressed staff of the old age home got us coffee in just 5 mins.
Amazing! I felt so good for them. They are delighted to the fullest! They are making the most of the life after retirement!
With the satisfaction of meeting them, I came home and got back to my routine life..
I was surprised to see Ajji-Ajoba back in their flat. A thunder of questions hit my brain – did they come just to collect some stuff? Were they not able to manage in the old age home? Are they ok? This is something wrong with them?
I went running to see them and figure out. The same smiling face revealed that they have shifted back to their flat and cancelled their stay at the old age home
What?? I said? You were so happy there?? A curious me questioned.
Gathering courage, Ajoba said.. Yes, we were very happy. But the fact is that we are old. And we are going to die soon.
People in the old age home are also our age.
It breaks our heart in pieces hearing news of death of people in our group. Our heart is not so strong. It doesn’t let us sleep whole night. It makes us restless. NO.. we are not that strong to take it.
A moment of silence…………………………………………………………………………
I couldn’t utter a single word, just came back.
It’s been 2 days now since they are back. I see them settling again in the flat, keeping up with their routine.
Is this the life they had imagined when they were growing their children? Wouldn’t they be wishing to play with their grandchildren? Wasn’t they imagining a relaxed life on retirement assuming their kids will take care of them from now? Didn’t they dream of a complete family time?
Why is our generation not considering these points and running after success leaving parents to suffer?
I am not blaming only others. Even I make mistakes. How much time does it take for me to call my mom and ask if she has taken her medicine? Don’t we have even this much of time really?
How happy will they feel when we hold their hand and say – don’t worry, we are there for you! Why do we need old age homes ever in this world? The way their cared for us, can’t we give it back the same way?
I am speechless.