AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

My neighbour’s garden is so beautiful decked with flowers, grass so levelled, every pebble just in right place that I really feel like singing:

Marie, Marie quite contrary,

How does your garden grow

Make sure you read it in rhythm and let me confirm her name is not Marie 😁.  She is an eighty year old woman with love for gardening.  I have seen the passion with which she caresses each and every plant, waters them, nurtures them. I can not imagine myself in her shoes at her age at this moment.

It’s not just her, I have seen and met women who irrespective of what age they are, are living  and leading lives with full zest spreading positivity and giving hope to follow. Be it grooming oneself, following passion, acquiring new skills – for few age is never a hindrance.

Some celebrity examples (examples covered by media):  This creates better impact you see😁:

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

J K Rowling: a story that could have turned into a tragedy as attempt to suicide was inked on those pages is now an example of stupendous success.  Her life prior to success of Harry Potter was never a fairy tale and success didn’t came early as the first copy was rejected by 12 publishers. What if she haven’t had pushed her way through the big road blocks of “NO” thinking I am over 30 now, what can I do, It’s too late.  Just imagine.

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Smt. Nannamal, 96 years old yoga teacher, Padmashree awardee, is the oldest yoga teacher in India. Just watch her once and you would say “not even Beckham can bend like her”  😁.  She is giving a strong message on how to lead life, a healthier way – body and soul. Age is just a number.

Carmen Dell’Orefice (Featured Pic): Aged 87, gracing the cover page of the world’s most sought after and read fashion magazine “Vogue”. After experiencing an exploited childhood, three broken relationships, marriages to be precise does world still seem to be a better place to live? Give it a thought.

These wonderful women (only handful have been mentioned) truly motivate me one or the other way. Like my neighbour who is more than double my age inspires me to take care of “My” garden which at this moment looks like hair strands left on a bald head 😂.  When I feel de-motivated looking at my current work status, rejections I have received so far, and obviously seeing all my contemporaries working (I am not jealous, hope it’s clear) such success stories rekindle, re-ignite the passion to go for it (Facebook has proven to be useful to me this way). They say  to me “It’s never too late”, Give one more try before you give up” .

I  remember having met one my friends on my way back to home. I was clearly upset mentioning the gap of 9 years on my CV. She said “kids should be our first priority when they are young and dependent and who said you cannot work later.  Gap of nine years or your age is just a number, so trivial to be de-motivated and stop trying.  You are never too old to live your dreams” . That really boosted my confidence. I am really fortunate to have met her (hope she reads this 😊).

Living life is more important than counting days.  And these women motivate me to do the same.

Disclaimer: I am not a feminist as I have mentioned only about women 😁.

FIGHT AGEING AND LOOK YOUNGER! WHY?

I strongly believe that people who hide their age or are upset about growing up are the ones who are not satisfied with their lives. These wrinkles and the signs of ageing are nothing but a sign of a life well lived. The fact that people want to get rid of these wrinkles really baffles me. I wonder what these cosmetic companies are trying to sell when they come up marketing lines like – “Fight 7 signs of ageing”, “Get rid of the wrinkles”, “Preserve that sculpted look of 20s”. First question that most people ask is “Is it really possible?” and I wonder why on earth someone would want to fight ageing anyway.

I believe that every age has its own charm. The stress-free childhood, fun and complicated teenaged life, probably the best time of everybody’s life is the early adulthood, then the hard working mid age and beyond that the old age which is often connected with boredom. The lifetime till a person turns 25 is when he or she wants to grow up. Teenagers usually want to be considered adults. The lifetime beyond 25 is when a person wants to retain the same energy and the looks of the 25 year old self. I was watching a movie where woman in her late 30s tells her friend that she hates it when men of her age hit on the girls 15 years younger than her. That made me think that character in the movie already had her set of fun of getting attention from men when she was younger, why does she wants to retain it when she has passed that age?

Energy levels do go down with old age but it all depends how well your lifestyle is since the younger age. When I see people much older than me doing amazing social work, going for adventures and travelling the world, I look forward to that age too. Isn’t it amazing to have all that experience of life, nothing much to worry about and still have all that fun in life?

Anti-ageing techniques that millions of cosmetic companies and clinics are trying to sell to the world only work on single principle – make people hate themselves and when they do, offer them a solution perfectly wrapped in an expensive package. Fact is that all that they try to do is to make you hate yourself which not only makes you stressed out but makes you look even older. Mission accomplished!

Believe in yourself and your achievements in life. You have lived your life the best way you could. Whether it is about turning 30 or 40 or 80, remember life is only about being happy and satisfied. Being dis-satisfied about your looks not only damages you and your confidence but it is far more detrimental to your younger ones who look up to you. Don’t fall for this anti-ageing scam; it does nothing more than damaging your body image. Fighting ageing is like fighting time, and frankly would you really like a 40 year old woman to look half her age? Let a 40 year old you look like present you, not a younger you. Because younger you has lived her life perfectly.

One of my colleagues from Netherlands is an amazing photographer – Wim Corbijn Van Willenswaard. He has a great collection of portraits of senior people and every picture will make you think about it. Not only are those faces beautiful but they are also full wisdom and experience something that is always missing in the pictures of young people. Those eyes are still full of energy and curiosity not very different from a child’s, yet those eyes are a proof of a life well lived.

GRANDPARENTS – PAMPERING AND MORE

Hi Everyone,

Jaane bhi do beta, bachchein hain” (let it go dear they are kids) often heard my grandparents say this and my in laws and parents saying this whenever my anger is about to erupt at my kids.  I am sure all of you must have.  “Grand” parents – this generation is always closer to their third generation i.e. “Grand” children.

Grandparents always shower their grandchildren with love, more love and gifts too  because they always feel they have been miser in “showing” their love towards their kids.  So it is their chance to spend all that they have kept in themselves.  And we call it pampering.  What do they expect in return?  Nothing but time with their grandchildren.  They want to relive their childhood walking hand in hand with their third generation.

So do grandparents stand synonym to pampering only?  Pampering is just like seasoning on a delicious dish or icing on cake.  So what’s the catch?  Grandchildren who get a chance to grow up with grandparents grow up listening to folk tales, moral stories, devotional chants, memories and more.  They grow knowing more about relationships and family tree.  In a way they help in shaping the ideologies and beliefs of tender minds.  And grandparents enjoy sharing these moments.  No amount of money or luxury could give them happiness than the joy of teaching or talking to their young ones.  Whenever my in-laws visit us I have seen how they spend time with my kids, play with them, try to teach few habits.  And their happiness when they indulge themselves in such activities is a visual treat.

And when friendship builds between these two generations exchange is mutual.  I am not talking about any business here though.  If grandchildren get a glimpse of golden memories of past then grandparents get to a chance to upgrade their tech knowledge.  I can say this because I have seen many grandparents trying to learn new skills on their phones and laptops, upgrade their computer knowledge just to be in tandem with the steps of their dear ones’.  Their effort to accept change should be saluted.

Do only kids have company?  Hmm, I suppose no.  Different generations different opinions and experiences as well.  Clash of opinion is sure to crop up but that doesn’t make our parents or in-laws our enemies.  In-fact a bit of understanding and adjustment could make co-existence easy.  And the experience they have be it in life, raising kids, household stuff, managing relationships or managing finances as well always come to our rescue.  They are so right when they say “Dhoop mein baal nahi safed kiye” which means our grey hair is not a result of sun bathing but this is all experience we have gained in our life.  And that experience definitely deserves dignity.

I want to conclude that their experience, their effort, their knowledge deserves respect.  And friendship with these aged friends should be celebrated;  celebrated for life.

CARE FOR THE OLD PARENTS – AN EXPERIENCE

May 12, 2016… that was the day things changed drastically for me personally and for my two elderly parents. I was in the kitchen talking to my mom and realized something was wrong as she kept trying to say something but couldn’t complete her thought. Next thing I knew she was having what we later learned was an epileptic seizure. 

My husband and I noticed a few years prior that she was having difficulties with her thought processes and under a lot of stress taking care of my now 95 year old father who has congestive heart failure. We moved in with them and tried to take some of the burden of his care off of her shoulders but she was stubborn and wouldn’t let me help a whole lot other than to try and keep the house clean. I offered to take over the bill paying, but again no. Three years later she had her first seizure and everything was now on me to deal with. 

I admit there are days I resent having to deal with all of this but then I always remember how they took care of me when I was little. They instilled in me a sense of duty and respect towards my elders which I hope I have passed on to my own two grown daughters.

My mom has had 3 other seizures since then. She has been diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The hardest part of all this? Seeing her loose her memories and the person she was. She does not recognize her own home which she has lived in for the last 20 years. She does not recognize the man she has been married to for over 50 years, which really upsets my dad.She doesn’t even recognize me half the time and that hurts but I know it’s not her fault. I have to explain to my dad it’s the disease that has done this to her mind, along with the seizures. It kills him and me to see her so confused and many times scared. 

Reading the two articles all ready written on this, the statistics and stories passed on, breaks my heart. They are our Parents. They took care of us when we were small. We should return that care now that it is They who are like children once more. 

To answer the question of burden or boon: I think it is both.

WARMTH OF THE WRINKLED OLD HAND

It was a scorching sunny day, an unavoidable journey, the Indian Railways, and my only respite was a confirmed ticket. That day, like my many journeys, my iPod kept me busy, closed eyes, ear plugs in ears, and I entered some dreamland, but I was brought back to reality by a skinny, baggy eyed old man, as he touched my feet. I looked at him perplexed and he asked if he can sit on my berth a while. “Fine” I said half heartedly and after few minutes he asked “can my wife sit too ? Just for a while please.” Greedy old man I thought, but in that moment I didn’t see a retired postmaster in him, or a helpless father who invested all his life to raise his sons, giving them good education, care and in return all he got was abuses and cruelty during his time of need. None of his sons had a room in their house for the old couple, but they gleefully or rather forcefully snatched the little leftovers they had left to them. Poor him, he had to leave his hometown, living elsewhere on his little pension and the small chapati center the couple ran.

Open your eyes and you will find many such stories around you. Towards the fag-end of their lives, they will be dependent on their kids, but owing to multiple reasons, the elderly are either abused, neglected or abandoned and dumped in old age homes. Old age homes are no solutions as there they are deprived from the love, affection and emotional bonds that are formed with blood relatives.

Our film industry, poets, writers, lyricist have tried to send out this message numerous times, the greatest showman of Indian cinema, Mr Raj Kapoor, had shown this in a film named “ Kal Aaj  Aur Kal”, where he had portrayed this point very well, that today’s youth is tomorrow’s heritage. The legendary actor, Mr Amitabh Bachchan did film like “Baghban”, where he played the role of a helpless father who was forced to part ways with his wife in the dusk of their lives, bringing our hearts in our throats. Superstar Rajesh Khanna too, did movies like “Amrit” and “Avtaar” on this very subject. We watch these  movies, appreciate the sentiments, but back at home, our behaviour to our elders won’t change one bit. I am reminded of a song by Mukesh,

“Ladakpan Khel Mein Khoya
  Jawaani Neend Bhar Soya
  Budhapa Dekhkar Roya
  Wahi Kissa Purana Hai”

In four short lines, he told the story of each and everyone on this Earth !

Government of India brought Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior citizens Act in 2007 making children or grand children to maintain his or her parent, failing to do so, can be punishable with 3 months imprisonment, but how many parents will come forward to lodge a complaint against their own offspring ? Certainly not the old man whom I met in train. When asked, his reply was “they are my sons and I can’t see them suffer”. Forget the Act, how many of us respect by giving the reserved seats to senior citizens in buses? A question that I asked myself as well. The reason we are in this world and alive all this while is our parents, it’s with their help we took our first steps. Now when their knees are weak, let us be their walking stick and give them some room in our hearts and homes. Let’s not just say “Matru Devo Bhava – Pitru Devo Bhava” but let us be humans again, giving them the love they deserve, making them smile, driving their loneliness, depression away and making their second innings a fruitful one.

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THE HANDS THAT ROCK THE CRADLE

Old age is viewed as an unavoidable, undesirable and problem ridden phase of life. It brings many obstacles for the ones going through, many problems, physiologically, psychologically, socially, emotionally and financially. The baggy eyes, the sagging, wrinkled, blue-veined skin, the toothless smile, the silver hair, the lisp words, the trembling hands, the bent back, the improper motor skills and unstable steps, all are screaming of a lifetime of experience and struggle.

They develop symptoms like poor memory, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headache, depression, memory defect, periods of confusion, lowered efficiency in work, intolerance of change, disorientation, restlessness, insomnia, failure of judgement, a gradual formation of delusion and hallucinations, extreme-mental depression and agitation, severe mental clouding in which the individual becomes restless, combative, mental stability diminishes, financial power becomes bleak and eyesight suffers a setback. It is a period of disappointment, dejection, disease, repentance and remorse.

I often wonder why is it that we are so sensitive to the needs of our children while the same time we show great indifference towards our parents. I have witnessed such brutal cruelty parents suffer at the hands of their children, children who are great parents, why ? Is it because our children are our future, we have to invest time and money in them to reap benefits in our old age ? Are we already so scared of our future that we have started to prepare for it from now itself, trying to make our kids able and available, to be able to support us and be there for us ? Then why is it that we turned out to be bad investments of our parents, weren’t we supposed to be their future ? Aren’t they our future too ? Aren’t they the reflection of us in our old age ? Or is it that we are so ignorant to the fact that our old age isn’t very far away, that we are resistant to getting senile one day, some day ? Has youth blinded us to the harsh fact that we might be enduring the same fate that we gave our parents, that our children are watching us subject our parents to various kinds of tortures, mental, physical and emotional.

Examples of cruelty towards parents is seen everywhere, especially in India. We are more emotional people, we can’t kick our children outta of our homes at the age of 18, we take the responsibility of educating them, and providing them with the best education, we also consider it our duty to settle them, provide them with some inheritance, help them find a life partner, even look after their kids for them, and that is the sole reason we are used more like a piece of junk by kids in old age. They take parents for granted, their unconditional love becomes their weakness and their giving nature becomes their shortcomings as they endure every pain inflicted by ungrateful sons and daughters with a smile on their lips.

I heard a heartbreaking story recently, about a son who was settled in USA, he never visited his mother except for the one time his father passed away. He came to India, convinced his mother that she can’t live here alone and needs to come to US and live with him, the poor lady agreed happily and sold her house handing over all the money to her son. He took her with him to the airport, and told her to wait as he clears check-in, the unsuspecting mother sat in the waiting lounge for next 18 hours, but the son never came, he had boarded the flight alone leaving her behind. When people made the old lady realize of the game her son played on her she was heart-broken, she had no place to return to, ultimately she landed up taking the job of a maid in the house that was hers, and sadly she did it with the hope that someday her son would come back for her, and she must stay put so that he can find her easily. This story brought tears of anguish to my eyes, as I felt her pain in my heart, it retched me and I cursed her son.

I can never forget a poet recite an incident, where an old man had two sons, both fought for his property, each got his share, but none fought for the father, he was thrusted upon them them each for 15 days a month forcefully by some concerned relatives, he used to eat with his elder son for fifteen months days a month, and with his younger son the next fifteen days, and all the months with 31 days, he went hungry for one day, telling everyone that he keeps a day long fast.

This was just one instance, this kind of merciless and inhuman behaviour is witnessed many a times. The parents who gave up their master bedroom for you are often given the smallest room in the house and that too in the most deserted corner, the mother who sat with you all night as you burned in fever, shedding tears to see you unwell is left to die alone in a charity hospital. The father who spent his last penny to help you buy your house is kicked out of the same house, forced to live in old age homes.

HelpAge (NGO India) – A leading Non Profit Organization in India caring for disadvantaged elderly senior citizens for more than three decades carried out a survey in 2015. The survey across 20 cities revealed that 73% of responders accepted that abuse of the elderly exists in society. One in three persons surveyed said they would do nothing about it. Following are some facts from it :

  1. Across the country, 37% of the youths surveyed preferred to stay passive in the face of elderly abuse.
  2. 92% youths in Delhi are unlikely to take action against elderly abuse.
  3. In Hyderabad, 45% of the youth population don’t care about elderly abuse.
  4. 29% youth in the country feel that ‘physical abuse and beating up’ is a common type of abuse.
  5. Among those surveyed, 61.2% feel ‘elders without spouse’ are more vulnerable to abuse.
  6. Only 4% said they would report the case to the police.
  7. Property and inheritance disputes’ emerges as the main reason for abuse at 53.2%.
  8. Respondents said most abusers were of ‘sound mind as well as sound health’. Clearly, elder abuse was intentional and voluntary.
  9. 7% said that they had noticed elder abuse among their relatives or family.

A recent survey conducted across 12 cities and eight states in India, daughters-in-law turned out to be the most common offenders when it comes to abusing the elderly. According to the report, 59% of the abused elderly reported abuse by sons while only 7% reported facing abuse by their daughters. While this appears like a gendered phenomenon, as many as 61% of those surveyed reported abuse by daughters-in-law. 

Silver Age ! A period of diminished achievement following a golden age, a characterized by an increase in impiety and human weakness. Youth is the Golden Age, shining, bright, coveted, sought, precious while old age is silver, luminescent, cool, calm, pale, valued yet ignored.

Every man desires to live long, but no man desires to be old. We’ve put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it !

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