Pushpa had missed Rajinder for thirty five long years. Every morning, every evening and every night she could feel his presence around her. She would hear him saying- ‘Pushpa, where’s my tea? I am running late‘. Every morning Pushpa looked at the door and imagined Rajinder walking out of the door with a promise of coming early in evening. Every evening Pushpa looked at the door at sharp 7:15pm presuming Rajinder was back home and taking his tiffin box out of his bag. She would hear him saying that everybody loved her Biryani at office.
Pushpa had worked as a teacher in a government school for probably all her life. She loved her Rahul a lot and never made him feel the absence of his father. Rahul was growing up and had faded memories of his father. He had many friends and was invited to birthday parties frequently. The scar that his father’s death had caused him was removed like an ill-forgotten milk tooth. Pushpa was left with her memories and pain of scars while waiting for Rahul to come home. There was a vacuum inside her which was sucking her inside and making her turn back to memories of past. She was happy in a sad way and was not ready to open herself to an exterior stranger world.
Time was flying and Pushpa was forgetting Pushpa and immersing herself in making Rahul’s life a success. She was standing outside the social circle of people who were once concerned about her and Rahul till Rajinder’s first death anniversary. The same set of people for whom Pushpa was a threat to their otherwise normal happy family structure. The same set of people who might have repeated an umpteenth number of times- ‘if you need any help, please let us know‘; the same set of people who ignored her when she wanted help from somebody to fetch her dead husband’s death certificate.
Rahul was now ready to move out of the house first time for his engineering degree. He was going to Pune and Pushpa was going to an even far insipid territory where she herself had lost track of any human connection. She was now like a barren land which apart from the water was not paid any attention even by the eagles too. Rahul called weekly and told her about the fun he was having at the hostel. Pushpa listened to him calculating mentally about the next month’s mess fee keeping the rising VAT charges in mind.
Rahul got a placement in an MNC in Pune only and Pushpa was content that Rahul was settled in his life. She was content even on the day Rahul got married to his college sweetheart. She was content even on the day Rahul got a job in his hometown and moved in with Pushpa. Radhika was a nice girl and loved Rahul a lot. Both of them were working and had good incomes. Pushpa sometimes talked to Rajinder and discussed how Rahul had made her proud.
Days were passing and Pushpa could sometimes hear some heated arguments coming out of Rahul’s room. One morning before Rahul was leaving for work Pushpa asked her about it. Rahul tried to avoid the subject but gave up and said Radhika wasn’t happy having Pushpa around. Radhika thought of Pushpa as a sad old face who was bringing sad vibes in the house for a newly married couple.
Pushpa could have been sad, odd or bitter but as she was devoid of any human emotions for so many years she nodded her head in approval and asked Rahul to take Radhika’s lead and move on ahead. She didn’t cry the day when both of them packed their bags and left the city. She didn’t cry the day when she heard Radhika was pregnant. But she did cried the day she held Raj who resembled Rajinder’s face. She cried because she felt a human connection after twenty five long years. She loved Raj a lot and was happiest when he spent his summer holidays with her. Raj loved Pushpa and to her he was her world.
Raj was growing and so was his inquisition which dared him to ask his mother why Pushpa didn’t stay with them as now she was retired and old and needed help from the family. Radhika talked to Rahul and decided Raj would attend a summer camp nowforth instead of visiting Pushpa.
Summer came and Raj couldn’t meet Pushpa. Pushpa kept looking at the door since 7am in the morning but he didn’t turn up just like Rajinder. A telephone call from Rahul confirmed the sad news that broke Pushpa’s heart. She still kept looking at the door. The clock striked 7:15pm and she presumed Rajinder to be there. He came that evening and looked at his Pushpa and asked her if she wanted to come with him. She gave an affirmative nod.
Raj was called unexpectedly from the camp and they headed straight to Pushpa’s house. He had never seen the old house full of so many people. Stranger people who came to his father and kept saying-‘if you need any help, please let us know‘.
Raj was sad.
Raj is sad when he is writing this story on his grandmother’s tenth death anniversary.
Why can’t retirement be a new lease of life for Old people instead of being a burden on their children? Why can’t they be taken care of and loved when they need to be loved the most?
As of 2005, there were 1,018 Old Age Homes in India. Of the 739 homes for which detailed information is available, 427 homes are free of cost, 153 old age homes are on a pay and stay basis, and 146 homes have both free as well as pay and stay facilities. Kerala has 186 old age homes, the most of any state. [Source: http://www.indiatogether.org
A draft Parents and Senior Citizens Bill, 2007 in Parliament attempts to mandate the care of elderly citizens in law, and envisions the establishment of tribunals to ensure its functioning. Click here to read a heart rendering article.
I’d also suggest that this article should be read in conjugation with the above post to shed a light on the current lifestyle changes that are causing people to make their parents move away- http://mindflirting.wordpress.com/2007/10/11/dowry-laws-boon-or-bane/
Why are our parents alone even when they were around us throughout? They are the wealthiest who have the hands of parents on their head! Please love your parents – they are priceless. – Fruity