Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Power of compassion

Though growing old myself, I do not enjoy the company of old people. I am more at home with youngsters born several decades later. This unwillingness to mix with persons of my age or senior to me could have stemmed from my unconscious fear of seeing my image in them. It could also be that the oldies talk more about their problems: declining health, reduced money and disinterested children. It leaves even the most cheerful chap a little depressed. It never struck me that the younger folks with whom I tried to get close would have similar reaction for me. Luckily I was with kinder people and never had occasion to feel unwanted.
It was then I had a request from a friend of mine in Kolkata to visit a senior citizen’s home run in the suburbs of the city where I lived and give him my impressions. Possibly he had an old relative with no or poor income of his own in mind. My wife had also been urging me for long to donate some money to one such home. At her suggestion I took bundles of dhoties, towels and saris for giving the inmates.
It was a house with five small rooms, a hall, kitchen, three toilets and two bath rooms. There were no cots. Four or five slept in each room on mats with the hall possibly accommodating more. A middle aged man in khaki uniform informed that the manager would come only in the afternoon. Having seen me alight from a medium sized car driven by a driver, he had no objection to my seeing around. He was engrossed in talking to some woman that he paid scant attention to me. What I saw made me sad. Most of the inmates who were in the hall and rooms appeared lonely despite living in a crowd , fragile people ready to break down and full of stories of neglect and indignities. Most of them , shriveled with age, sunken cheeks, bald heads or silvery hairs, bent in body with a walker to stand steady, drooping mouths exposing a few stained teeth with cavities, thick glasses or a dangling wire from the hearing aid, did not present a pleasant sight.
When I was looking around to place the bundles I had carried, they said in plaintive tone “Sir, please distribute these to us yourself as otherwise they would not give us. They will be sold.”
I was shocked and said that I do not believe the management would do such a thing.”
They replied in chorus ” We do not know about the management. The fellow whom you saw outside will take away every thing. Now and then people come here and donate sweets and namkins, blankets and such things. He will keep most with him and give us very little. Please, Sir, give it before he comes. We will wear them immediately.”
I asked my driver to keep that fellow busy in case he finished his talk with the woman. Meanwhile I distributed all the clothes and left the surplus with them to be given to other inmates when they come. I distributed the ladoos and the namkins then and there. I spent an hour with them discussing their routine and their lives. It was not much speak about. It was a pathetic revelation of how cruel and indifferent the society has turned over the years towards the older people especially when they become dependent on others for support financial or physical. The problem is acute in cases like this home where the inmates are poor and unable to pay large sums demanded in better homes. The food supplied is inadequate and the same bland fare day in and day out. Medical facilities are not much to write home about. They suffer silently may be with sympathetic words from each other. People also become self centred in adversity. Each one of them was biding his/her time for the god of death to give deliverance from this cruel world.
Firstly no relatives visit them. Even the few who come once in a while stand at a distance for a few minutes exchanging some words in a voice that is monotone. There will be no enthusiasm or love or even a touch or caress. The servants and the man who worked in the home always talked rude in rough voice. These people crave for kindness and love that they have missed in their homes. They long for caring words and a little demonstration of concern for them. The twilight years are spent in despondence and worry.
How nice it would be if the schools were to send their young girls and boys to these homes in bright and colourful clothes to sing, dance and prance before these oldies. They can enliven their days with humorous stories and laughter lifting their sagging spirits and making them feel they are wanted. The one positive spin off would be the children learning the power of love and compassion to the lonely and lost


  1. We have enough material to share, but not the heart!

  2. when people dont have time to spend with their own parents ,how can one expect it for others parents...but definitely there are people like you who try to make a difference in others life..to bring a smile on them,atleast it may help to give a second thought for some..let it be so... & a big thanks for ur visit and encouragement.

  3. I am touched by your act :) and Yeah! I've a story to tell you Sir :) I've to tell you somehow... and am shocked by the man's act of not distributing things and taking them away with him :(

    Every young person has to become old.. they'll realize then!!!!

  4. a very touchy saga. Something should be done about the management, especially at ground level where that jerk used to carry ack everything rather than distributing..its such a shame!

  5. Thats a great idea, a meeting with young kids, that would surely make their day!!

  6. a heart is wat people need...You have a heart...coz u rayt 4 othrs to read, njoy n grab some moral out of each post...I laykd it...
    Take care KP sir,

  7. Hello Sir,

    This is my first visit to your blog!

    By this post that you wrote, I am extremely touched... it is very difficult to see such things!

    I once went to an old-age home myself and what a cruel sight it was... sigh!
    Hats off to you... :)

  8. Very Heart Touching :D Very Touched By Your Act :D

  9. Dear Sir,

    You have highlighted an important value.. That of caring and sharing.. In today's fast paced world, the old age homes and orphanages are forgotten.. People are all in a mad rush to keep improving their own lot.. There are very few who have the inclination or the time to visit such homes..

    I think it is the responsibility of parents and teachers to show the way to the children. Social service should be inculcated at an early age..

    Thanks for sharing..


  10. It's really sad that there are people in this world who live on the misery of others!

  11. A very touching story sir...at the same time it makes one think of the heartless act of people...especially toward the grown-up children.