Check out what the Indian Mommies are upto at indianmommies.blogspot.com

October 18, 2006

The Old.

Right now my grand mother (Dads mother) lives with my parents. She’s 90 years old. Next door lives my Uncle (Dads younger brother) with my 96 year old Grand uncle and 94 years old Grand aunt. This is a story about the old.

My father has 6 sisters and 3 brothers. My grand father had two sisters. Both of them did nt have any children of their own. One of the sisters was widowed when she was in her thirties and demanded her brother to give one of her sons in adoption and succeeded. She adopted my dad. Though not legally but with all the required religious poojas. Soon after the adoption, my dads Upanayanam (where he wears the sacred thread) happened. After that, he started doing the required customs to be performed after the death of a parent. For his adopted father. Once a month on the Amaavasai(Tharpanam) and once every year (Srardham). We called his adopted mother Athai Paati. She died when she was 75. She lived alone almost all her life and only the last year of her life, she lived with us. She suffered almost for 5 months before she died. The last 2 months, she lost her memory. It was really bad. My mom bathed her, dressed her, fed her, cleaned her and did everything for her. Soon after her death, we moved to another town.

Six years later, Dad’s parents came and lived with us on and off for around 3 years. My grandpa fell in the bathroom, broke his leg and was bed ridden for 2 months before he passed away. He was 90. Then my Grandma lived with my Uncles and Aunts for a while before coming back to my parents. Whenever my parents were traveling abroad or moving to another town, she ll live with the other sons and daughters. After my parents came back to our home town, she started living here. Now even when my parents travel, she continues to live alone in her down stairs room. A cook brings her food and since my uncle lives close by, he takes care of her. She’s 90 years old now.


My grand father's other sister who did nt have children either asked her brother for a child to adopt. So my dad’s younger brother was given in adoption to her. She died within a year of adopting my Uncle. Her husband, my grand uncle, is the one who is 96 now and living with my Uncle. The grand aunt I told about earlier is his sister. Her story is a tragedy. She got married in her teens. Her husband did nt want to live with her as she was dark and ugly. She came back to her village and lived with her family. After a decade or probably less, her husband died. She shaved her head, adorned the widow's attire and lived alone all her life. Last year, she joined an old age home. But she got too sick and wanted to live with my Uncle along with her brother. So she’s currently with my Uncle now. She is 94 and very sick.

My great grand mother had a sister. Her story is the most tragic. She got married when she was around 10 years old. As was custom then, girls got married young, stayed with their parents until puberty and left for the husband’s house afterwards. But after a year or two, her husband died. She became a widow when she was 12. After her puberty, they shaved her head and made her wear the widow’s attire. (My grandma has told me that she had really long and beautiful hair.) So she did nt even see the inside of her in-laws house, I guess. She lived alone almost all her life. I used to be very scared of her as she was a bitter old woman. (I can imagine why!) She died when she was 95.

I wish I had a magic wand with which I can wave and wash away all the worries and troubles of the old. Life is nt worth living long.

ps. If you have a story to tell about the old, please make an effort to write. Don't forget to send me the link. Or you can email me(boobabytalk at gmail dot com) the story and I can put it in this blog. It can be about anything:
The problems the old face.
The dilemmas our parents face caught between the old and the young. (I am currently writing a post on this topic.)
The customs and beliefs which make life more difficult.

Or anything which comes to your mind when you think about the old.

I would love to know more about this topic from you.

15 comments:

artnavy said...

Maybe you could consider my post "Cheers Paati"

Gayathree said...

Hello ....
Bumped into your blog accidentally & it was lovely reading it.Lots of information about pregnancy & (labour!!!)and ofcourse parenting.
Reading your blog made me smile ,laugh @ times & close to tears sometimes .....

Cheers
Gayathree

Anonymous said...

Boo,

I have felt many a times, that the advances in medicine target only the quantity of life rather than the quality of life.

Here are some of my personal experiences :-

1. My nephew
He was the first boy in our family. We are six sisters and he is the son of my eldest. He has myoclonic jerks and mental retardation. He needs support all the time as noone knows when and which would trigger his jerks. He is been like this since his birth and now he is 23 years old.

2. My BIL
He was just 42 when he met with an accident where there was no sign of any injury but he couldn't move his hands and legs soon after the accident and slowly could not move any muscle below his neck. He was said to have SCI [spinal cord injury] at C3-C4 and could not even breathe voluntarily after 4 days. He was in the hospital for 32 days, with each organ failing to function day-by-day and died in coma.

3. My MIL
She is suffering from rhumatism which has led to osteoporosis and her bones break on even the slight impact. She is immobile and needs to be carried but somehow she manages to do by herself the basic things using her chair. She is been like this for the past 12 years.

Though we had/have enough money to try all sorts of medications, there seems to be no cure for any of the above cases and I had/have been watching them helplessly.

In all the above cases, I did wish sometime or the other that they die without incurring much more pain, but did feel guilty immediately for thinking the same.

Now do you call all this as Karma or Fate?

Kowsalya

The Inquisitive Akka said...

That was a wonderful post. I will mail you some stuff about my family.

WA said...

Great post Boo

Me said...

There was an old lady living somewhat opposite to my ancestral home. Related to none or that’s what I know about her. She spoke with none, wore a white saree, and my friends used to claim she was the bravest women they had seen.

She lived with a dog which used to scare every kid that played in front of her home. I never saw the dog bite anyone but sometimes I think she let the dog out just to scare people, may be not. I always felt she was a nice person. She came and spoke to me when my dad died but I don’t remember what she said.

After years or may be decade later when I went back to my ancestral place I asked about her. They said she died. I don’t know how she died. I think the dog died first. I don’t know why but I think that it died first. I don’t know what she used to eat. I don’t know why I never thought about these during those days. I even don’t know why I thought about her when I had few of my distant relatives story to share. She was old. It fits the criteria. What ever.

Anonymous said...

About three months back while i was waiting at the airport before flight time, i saw an old lady in a wheel-chair surrounded by her family, young & old. She was frail,kind-looking, wrinkled and crouched, with a very endearing smile on her face.

The youngsters were all hip and the old, elegant. Looked like a rich family on its way to/back from vacation. Everybody was busy talking to each other, except talking to the old lady. They completely ignored her. They were rattling off flight times, what so and so is doing now, where they shop etc. But none of them included the old lady in their conversations. Still, she was listening to everybody with rapt attention. She kept turning from face to face- in the hope that somebody might look at her?

Was she a kind woman when she was younger? Did she treat her family well? Were they not paying her attention just when i happened to be watching? She'd not suffering, is she? She seems to have money, family...what else would she need? Much better than many old people on the streets or ill-treated at home. I don't know.

But those moments were very depressing. I'd be living that kind of life when i'm old, wouldn't i? I'd be learning everything all over again- brushing teeth, holding a spoon, wearing clothes...the difference - nobody would admire my efforts, count milestones or help me learn.

Of the many many good and bad memories i have of old people, this one stands out. For the first time, it made be think consciously about where i'd be a couple of decades later. I hope we all have a decent life to the end and i pray for all the old people, good & bad, rich & poor.

Sandhya

Akkare said...

My grandmother suffered a lot before she died. She was half blind and highly incapacitated and could not live on her own. So for the last ten years of her life she lived with my uncle. My uncle and aunt had a maid whose job included taking care of my grandmother. But there were times when she was on holiday or was doing something else when my grandmother needed to be cleaned or fed or otherwise taken care of. But not once in the ten years that his mother stayed with him did my uncle ever bath, clean or feed his mother. That was just understood to be my aunts job - even though this was not her mother. I am sure it would have been exactly the same had my grandmother been living with my parents. Now my uncle is really popular among all my relatives and his wife is much less so for reasons that are too long for this post. Even I don’t really like her. But I feel so angry when I hear relatives or neighbours bitch about her in one breath and in the next breath talk about what a good son my uncle was for taking care of his mother for so long. I want to scream at the unfairness …yes, she is a bitch, but my uncle did not take care of my grandmother, his wife did! She did all the hard work for someone who when my aunt came into the family as the first daughter-in-law was not even very nice to my aunt.

This is what old age reminds me of - the unfairness of Indian society. How women of the last generation, and many of my generation, are unable to take care of their parents because it is not the done thing. How they have to take care of their husbands parents, who has sometimes been horrible to them in the past. How the sons get all the credit though it is the wives who do all the work!

Indira said...

Hi Boo,

Shubha Deepavali to you and your family! Also thanks for your nice comment on my blog. I greatly appreciate it.

Life is never pleasant, I guess. Every generation has its own issues and struggles. I think 'Old life' is the culmination of all joys, hardships and good/bad decisions that we have made in our life. There is no perfect life in the end, it's always pitiful atleast in some eyes.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

Lovely and melancholic post, boo.

B o o said...

Art - Thats a touching post!

Gayathree - Thanks for coming by. Im glad you find it interesting!

Kowsalya - Hugs to you. You are a strong person. I can understand how frustrating it will be in such helpless situations. I think our country has to go a long way with respect to the mentally/physically challenged. Their lives have to be made as less pitiable as possible and thats where we shamefully fail!

B o o said...

Akka - Do so. However heart breaking these kind of stories are, it might help me in doing something positive.

WA - Thanks.

me - I have seen such women in my life too. And it makes me immensely sad when I see them. I am constantly trying to forget the faces of those women and go in denial. Its tough!

B o o said...

Sandhya - Even I used to think about how the old were when they were young and wonder if they are just paying for they did! But nevertheless, such scenes bring a tear to my eye. I dont know why.

Akkare - Thats a wonderful point you have written. Its ditto in my family too. Its the sons house, sons money, sons gifts,... But if the son does nt take care of his parents, then its his wife's fault!! Go figure!

B o o said...

Indira - You just summed up my whole post with these words -

>> There is no perfect life in the end, it's always pitiful atleast in some eyes. <<

Megha- thank you.

Premalatha said...

Boo, My periyaachchi was a young widow. She came and lived with her younger sister (my aachchi)'s family. she ended her life one day.
read from bottom.
Periyaachchi-1
Periyaachchi-2
Periyaachchi-3
Periyaachchi-4

My chithithi never got married.

My another chiththi being a handicaped women no one really thought that she deserved a marriage and a life of her own.

My aththai, but I call her akka, selvi akka, got married, but came back home on the first night day (she ripped open the thatch and jumped off the roof and came home), complaining that that man did something nasty to her. :)) she refused to go back.

My aachchi suffers in the hands of my chiththi. :(