Sunday, March 21, 2010

Story 9 : Old Age and Kids Abroad.

This article is contributed by one of the reader. This makes everyone to rethink what we do. 
If you are a regular reader of "The Hindu" newspaper, you would not have missed an interesting article titled "HOME ALONE" on the Open Page Section, on the 14th March 2010,and the series of "Letters to the Editor" published ,on the article, in the newspaper, from the 15th March 2010,till date.
The article narrates in graphic detail, how over-ambitious (avaricious?) parents (particularly parents not enjoying good health) left alone in India, with their son(s) /daughter(s) abroad are going through inexpressible agony and misery, with no one to look after them in their twilight years, when they need all the affection, attention and physical care.
The way some of the parents have expressed self-pity, for not having brought up their children, with proper values, makes a sad reading. In most cases, the blame lies with the parents, who want their children to play the :"sedulous ape" (as Jonathan Swift calls it),imitating their neighbours, friends and relatives, regardless of the real interests of the children. After having pushed them into the concrete, urban jungle and rat race  of the western world, for the lure of money, today, the aged parents are spending agonising days in India, with no one to really care for them.
Skype and Google talk no doubt keeps them in touch with their children abroad, but neither Skype can arrange an ambulance and rush them to an hospital when there is a medical emergency, nor Google talk can physically help them and take them to places of worship, music concert, religious discourse etc. Skype can neither prepare and serve the dishes the old parents want to taste nor read out to them daily newspapers, magazines and novels which they cannot read, due to poor eyesight.
The number of well-to-do senior citizens, who are getting into Old Age Homes in Chennai, has shown an alarming increase  in the last two years and the stories I heard from some of  them, when I interacted with them, as part of the " Reaching Out" service of some of the NGOs in Chennai, were tear-inviting. Some of them wept uncontrollably, narrating how ungrateful their children have become and how mercenary their entire attitude has changed, after they went abroad.
It is pathetic to see senior citizens, well-educated and who have retired from senior positions in Govt., or private company service, longing for someone to come and talk to them. Loneliness in old age is very painful and when I go and spend some time with them, just listening to their past life, my heart weeps for them. Many of these senior citizens are unable or unwilling to go and live with their children abroad due to cultural shock, climate changes, boredom of being locked up in the house all day, lack of company, discernible neglect by the children, their spouses and grand children, their way of life and other reasons. They have, therefore, no other alternative, but to spend their last few years, in solitude and soliloquy.
What a tragedy for the parents, who have given their best to their children!  One of the senior citizens (an old lady of 72 years) narrated to me, with tears in his eyes, how their only son on USA could not even come to India to perform the last rites of his father (the husband of the lady who narrated the incident),because his employers refused to grant him leave and told him that if he goes to India, he need not come back to his job. The lady said that she told his son not to come and the last rites were performed by the younger brother of her husband. That painful memory  is still haunting her. Her moist eyes keep haunting me.


  1. Senior citizens when they were young either bcoz they were very busy with their careers, personal activities did not care/took time to pass on the values regretting later in their old age.

    Also I feel this is just the cost that our Indian Family system is facing in modern days, IMITATING western world, our rich indian family system is loosing its existence. Indian Families now a days has become "molecular" meaning family is comprising of just ones wife and kids. Parents do not seem to fit into it bcoz of generation gap, lack of communication between family members, not yet settled down in life etc etc.

    One more aspect i am seeing i some senior citizens are in sandwich state right now meaning , they are also economically self sufficient and independent thinking senior citizens(worked in top most govt positions) do not want to be dependent on their children in their last age and do not see themselves living in their Sons/Daughters home. They are rather preferring old age and wanted to do things in their way.

    not sure if this is specific to NRI think this is more of change coming in the root itself , as such some stats - The NRI and PIO population across the world is estimated at over 30 million.

    There were references in newspaper family members living in same cities had their parents live in "old age" - So if you think about it most of the old age issues are because of the "attitude" issues among family members and could be resolved if worked out.

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