Catching reflection of my slightly greying hair in the mirror concerns me about my age.
I am still in my early thirties. I wonder how I would feel at sixty five. The mop of my mane will be mostly grey and skin sagging no matter what night cream I use now. Yes, I agree, my lament is highly vain and superficial. Still worse things could happen to my body at sixty five like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and the likes. But I am relying on advanced medical sciences to remedy them. It might take away some pleasures and conveniences from life but I am hoping the overall situation will not be very grim. Because honestly, other painful and horrible things happen to people in old age.
My parents live a very beautiful and contented life with my brother, his wife and two adorable grandchildren. Though they still lead a very active life, a significant part of their lives revolves around their family especially grand children who are their absolute joy. When I hypothetically imagine that this bond be disrupted by someone, I shudder at the trauma and untold grief that my parents would undergo. This distressed imagination is enough to remind me that such a situation should never take place in the lives of my husband’s parents as well. I may not be able to live with the guilt of rupturing the most treasured bond shared between grandparents and a grandchild even more cherished than a parent and child’s relationship.
Sadly, thousands of old people are living miserable and anguished lives in old age homes away from their loved ones. The psychological impact of leading such forced isolated lives, constantly craving for love and care, is detrimental beyond medical repair. Their eyes grow tired in anticipation of some visitor but none arrives. Every moment is a struggle of emotions where each tear pines to glimpse the grandchild.
While figuring out the motivation for abandonment of parents, one reason starkly stands out. In most cases, the daughters-in-law find them a liability, intrusion and an unnecessary part of the family which should be gotten rid of. To which the weak and subversive husband meekly complies. It is not to conjure villains out of sons or daughters-in-law. It is to note the condemning degeneration of our values and thoughts.
It is understandable that sometimes people don’t get along with each other. The children might have differences and rifts with their parents and in-laws. In such cases the ideal solution is that people start living separately amicably. Distances do breed fondness. That is how the westerners live, each one enjoying their space with no bitter feelings. And dwelling in the comfort that their children still care about them and they wouldn’t have to spend an eternity to hug their grandchildren. But throwing your parents out, robbing them of their dignity and self-respect, taking away their share of love and affection is simply heinous. What turns us into such cold and self centred beasts that a mother’s wail and a father’s pleading to be with their family falls on deaf ears and blind eyes?
Though there can be no rationale behind such repugnancy, the one that my generation resorts to is financial burden. Ask us, if there are such financial strains did we think of cutting on our wardrobe, limiting our outings, budgeting our holidays. No. But yes, we did decide to cut off our old mother and an ailing father. Strange ways of a debauched world full of frigid consciences, to this end I conclude in a verse,
“We squabble from parents to planet all,
Which my mind comprehends not;
The globe is warming but hearts are cold,
We bring in pets but not our parents old.”