Sometime ago, RM had written a post on ‘What does growing old mean?‘ While I nodded away to glory as I read through her post, I got reminded of a few people and their take on living the ‘second innings’ and hence this post:
A couple who have two sons with families of their own. They live close to the younger son’s house. They stay in an apartment where they have so many peers and they enjoy their time there. They have weekly outings where they explore a temple / restaurant / shopping area etc. The aunt’s younger son was in fact telling us that when they plan of eating out, aunt suggests restaurants that they were unaware of. The couple do stay at their sons’ homes once in a while but miss their friends back home. This aunt even has a music teacher coming home to teach her. She is learning classical music from him, a passion that she always had but couldn’t pursue. She even performed during their Apartment’s community Durga Puja and her vocals skills were very much appreciated.
One of aunt’s mom (AM), she lives alone in a huge house of her own. Her son and family lives abroad. Her daughter lives in a different city. We recently visited her and were surprised to see the way the home is so well-kept. She has a huge garden with hundreds of plants. Abbas almost interviewed her about her approach towards the life that she is currently leading. Here’s how the conversation went:A: Don’t you feel like going abroad and live with your son and play with your grand children? AM: I have lived with him for some time. But I am happy here at my own home. At this age, it’s better to detach ourselves from all family ties.” A: But they are your own people. Don’t you think you will be happier living with your own family? AM: When we cross a certain age, we like to do things at a different pace. For example, when living with children and family, they go out and eat. You don’t feel like going with them. But back home, you feel restless till they come back. They might feel offended if we ask why they are late. If they are out of sight, you will not be that apprehensive. You might feel like eating your dinner early. But you can’t eat till your kids are done. Not that they will mind, but we will feel guilty on doing so.You might not like their way of living. And they might not like you commenting or advising coz they are already grown-ups. A: That is a part of life right? At every stage of life, you have a part to play. AM: Look Abbas, I have played my roles well and now is my time to detach from all. Why do you think some people are alive in the ICU for months together? Because they are reluctant to let go of their possessive nature, my son, my saree, my this and my that. Do you know why nature weakens your eye sight and hearing abilities with age? Because, old people are better off not seeing or hearing the happenings around them.
I might not have been able to write down her words exactly but it was such a pleasure listening to her. She is so practical, I became a fan of hers. She recently passed a Sanskrit exam. She said she was the oldest student there and she had joined a little late. The faculty advised her to join in the next session as the class was quite ahead but she insisted on joining and assured that she would catch up.
Ma (MIL) who lives with us and BIL & family alternately. Ma is a person who is very adaptive to any kind of situation. Initially when we had proposed the thought of leaving Mantam at the daycare, she swore not to visit us if we did that. But now she has come to agreement with the setup. Even when she is here, we stick to the 9 to 6 routine and she is alone at home all day. I’m sure she feels bored, but I’m even more certain that she would be at her crankiest best if she were to look after 2 3-year olds on her own for 9 hours on a day-to-day basis.
The gist of the whole post is to say that old age is just another childhood. People must spend it happily and try to relieve themselves of the mundane burden and indulge in all that they couldn’t due to worldly commitments.