Unlike the West, we live in a different social system. In India, kids after 18 need not leave their house, go out to be independent and earn for their graduation. While the westerners learn from us we have degenerated our standards to such an extent that acts such as touching the feet of elders have become mere acts of show off or hypocrisy.
The consequences of elder abuse are disastrous as the next generation learns from the past. My grandmother and parents, an integral part of my support system , once narrated me story of the young lad who was found busy polishing a coconut shell, when was asked by his father why he was doing it, the boy replies, “I am doing it for you Papa!,”. “What?!” asked the shocked and bewildered father to get this reply,” I thought why waste money on earthen pot to serve food at old age for you, while the coconut shell would serve the same purpose. Papa, I have seen mom serving food to grandpa in the coconut shell, so you are, right?”They let me ponder over the story, and I realised what they meant. Thanks, to my upbringing, I don’t leave any opportunity of touching feet of my elders to get all the blessings I could.
My grandmother was an epitome of love and care, nurtured and raised my sibling and me with all her experience and immense love. My parents set an exemplary example by taking care of my grandmother. My mother took care of my grandmother like her own mother, the small gestures of love that they made with each other was wonderful. I remember them going shopping together, excited with their buy, the discounts, the restaurant that they went post shopping, which restaurant to go next, and the list never ended. Their relationship I guess over time grew stronger. Both being elders to me, were a source of inspiration and awe to me. While all the daily soaps told me otherwise, I was in a house where mother in law and daughter in law were friends, maybe best friends, I will never know.
Few years back, when cancer engulfed the body of my grandmother, and we were all busy trying to save her, although we knew it was nearly impossible. In the former days when diagnosis wasn’t made yet and her condition was worsening, the people in ICU with who my grandmother shared her room were moved to see the way my mother patiently cleaned my heavy grandmother, put up with granny’s crazy behavior due to meds like it was nothing at all, for she wanted her only friend and philosopher to be back home, guiding her.I remember very well, death was fast approaching and granny called me in along with mom and told me, she was proud of who I am and told me, “Your mom is the best thing that happened to me and I want you never to disrespect your mom ever, share everything with her the way you used to do it with me, you are unique in your own way, but try to absorb the best of your mom.”
With this the neighboring old lady shocked in her expression told my mother that she never imagined a daughter in law could do so much and always thought that my mom was my granny’s own daughter. At that time I felt that was bizarre. But today I realize what granny meant.
I am just grateful to have been born into a family where values are held high, rules followed but bent according to the need and one which taught us always to respect our elders orally, emotionally and physically.
This is a major concern that needs to be look at. It doesn’t mean that when old, they are not that important at all.