My grandmother passed away three years ago due to cancer and medical negligence, which is pretty common in small towns. The doctor was treating her for gastric issues for three to four years and later we came to know it was stage four stomach cancer. On the day the reports came, the doctor said she will live maximum for 3 months more but she managed to live for 14 months after that. Her death was painful for obvious reasons and she passed away in pain, the image which I can never delete from my mind.
Since her death, every year on her ‘barsi’, my family donates food and stationery to handicapped kids and as I stay far away from my hometown, I donate to ‘Gaushala’ or a meal to a poor person. Like every year, this day was little heavy for me as all my family groups were flooding with images of my grandma and it brought back all the memories of her. To avoid the flux of emotions, I switched to Twitter, my go-to escape and there I saw this video:
*सोनी चैनल पर प्रसारित kBC कौन बनेगा करोड़ पति का 3 मिनट 20 सेकेंड का छोटा सा हिस्सा है। मानवीयता को शर्मसार करनेवाला ये दृश्य/वृत्तांत । अगर आप देखना चाहें ।*😢😭😭 pic.twitter.com/yaSOFNuOUE
— 🚩Prince🚩 💯 fb (@Prince31490148) July 27, 2019
This video completely broke me. I was crying like anything because I felt the helplessness of those old people mentioned in the video. I could imagine the pain they must be going through in their lives. Thanks to this video, I decided to donate in an old age home today rather than ‘Gaushala’ (as I keep donating there regularly). I searched for old age homes near to my location in justdial, and called up the first one. The lady over the phone told me they need groceries and medicines. I asked her to WhatsApp me the list, I will try to manage whatever I can. I purchased around 50% of items she mentioned in the list and bought some medicines (cough syrups and paracetamols) and reached to this ‘Manuski Old Age home’ in Lohegaon area of Pune.
Upon entering the premises, the lady thanked me a lot for randomly calling her and bringing groceries as it is very difficult for them to sustain. I went inside the hall and saw around 4 aged people sitting/lying on their respective beds. Two of them had urobag attached to them, one grandma, who had lost her eyesight last year was trying to listen to television by staring off the wall and another grandma was just sitting idle in her thoughts. I peeped into the other room and saw four more beds on which three aged ladies were asleep. Once again, I was into tears. I couldn’t control my emotions seeing such “slow-time waiting for death” environment. I was lost and suddenly the nurse there tapped me and said “You should talk to them”.
I sat down with one grandma, she said “I am here for a year now and will stay here till my death as my son doesn’t love me anymore. I had four kids, three of them passed away in an accident and the fourth son refused to keep me. I get a pension on my husband’s name, I donate all to this house and they keep me very lovingly and takes care of me. I enjoy here.” She then showed me pictures of her kids and her dog whom she adopted when he was just six days old and he lived with her for 14 years. Then the nurse said, you know she sings very well, and then she sang a song for all of us.
After the song, she pointed towards another grandma who was sitting there lost in her thoughts and said, “Look at her, always sleepy. She is elder to me but I keep her as my daughter because she has a memory problem”
I went to her and touched her feet. She asked me to sit down. I asked her “Dadi! Where do you belong?” She said, “Nearby, Khadki area of Pune. My son went on a leave with his family so he dropped me here for some weeks. My man passed away five years ago, his pension comes to my account now. He was a tank mechanic in 512 Pune (some cantonment area). My only son got four male kid, who all are married and one has a six-year-old kid as well”. Then she asked me about my marital status, I said: “Dadiji I am getting married soon”. She said, “No matter what, never stop your wife from working or studying if she wants to. She should be independent without your presence”. She added, “Always do ram-bhakti if you want to get success in life. I always prayed to Ram and that’s why he gave me four grandsons”.
I tried to talk to the aged uncle sitting there with attached urobag. He just said, “My daughter in law doesn’t like me, that is why I am here”. He didn’t talk any further.
I was there for good 60-70 minutes. The lady told me they all just woke up for tea and supper. Now they will have dinner at around 8-8:30 and will go to sleep by 10-10:30 pm. They wake up by 5am to do some pooja and walk around the premises.
Families are becoming more and more nuclear today. Our parents stayed in the same city as of their parents but now most of us are settled outside and away from our homes. Today my grandfather is 78, and he stays with my Dad who is 52. But I at the age of 26 is already settled away from hometown and my brother in another city. I don’t know what will be the future when I will turn 52 and my Mom-Dad will cross the 70s. Today after visiting this Old Age home, I have realised no matter what, I should be taking care of my parents with all means I could. There shouldn’t be any excuse when it comes to taking care of them in their old age. I can see everything but cannot see my parents rotting away in some old age home in their last days. Nothing comes before and above them. My dad taking care of my grandad is an example from which I got to learn and in future, my kids will learn the same.
While taking care of our parents, we all be should be donating some amount of such old age homes. Your one-time spending in a Starbucks cafe can provide 10 days of ration for an aged person in such homes. Just search on google about nearby ‘Old age homes’ and visit. They have no one to talk to, they feel elated when you listen to their stories.
Chirag Barjatya is a Cinematographer, Blogger and Certified Nutrition Coach, he tweets at @chiragbarjatyaa