Sunday, July 28, 2013

On Parents' Day

Contestants, judges and the anchor in a reality show shed tears remembering their parents and how the parents were their gods. Many of them are young children, so I can well believe it. But as I watched the elders, not that I suspect their sincerity, but I couldn't help remembering two incidents - one which I witnessed just a day before, and another, several years ago.
I was in the library, picking up books when one old lady walked up and asked the librarian, "Any new novels have come?"
"No, nothing new, all the same old titles are there."
"But why don't you get some?"
"Nobody reads Telugu novels except you."
"Okay, give me some books. I get bored at home."
The librarian turned to his assistant who said, "But her membership has been cancelled."
"Sorry lady, you can't take books."
The old lady took out a Rs 100 note. "Since you will anyway throw them away, give me those books. I will buy them from you."
"I can't, your son will shout at me," the librarian said. "Give me his number, I will talk to him."
"No, they are all busy at home. You give me those books, I will pay you, I am such an old member of yours. I have been coming here since you started so many years ago!"
"Give me your son's number," the librarian persisted.
"No, they will shout at me if you call," the lady said and left in resignation.
What could have made the son cancel her membership? She was probably in her late 70s but was mobile. She seemed sharp and her faculties still acute. Then why would her son deny her the pleasure of reading?

Years, ago, when I lived in a working women's hostel, a lady was brought to the only house-like building there. She was in her 70s or 80s. Her son and daughter in law were working and they thought this was a safe place for her.
It was. But it was filled with strangers. Though one or two of us dropped in out of pity, her repetitive conversations and whining and complaining kept us away after a while.
Yes, I could understand how she would be boring her son and daughter in law. But, wasn't she his mother? Hadn't she tolerated his repetitive babble when he was a child and a toddler? While her heart would have brimmed with pride at the gurgling nonsense, his son probably found it embarrassing.

Can we pass judgement on such children? Increasingly, I find myself wondering about vanaprastham and its significance in our lives. Elderly couple would often voluntarily leave the worldly life after their children had their own families to pursue higher knowledge giving up all material pleasures. Was this why this had been introduced as one of the four stages of our lives - because our ancestors had seen that not all children and their parents can live in harmony beyond a point. And so, instead of becoming a burden and in turn feeling neglected, they find their way out of this illusory lives when their faculties are still functional and then take up sanyasa when the time is right?

Otherwise, maybe we too need to go the Chinese way - legally binding children to visit their aging parents!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...