By: Ravinder Gurtoo
Respecting our elders should be a courtesy ingrained in every one of us. Common grace and manners are to treat elders with dignity and respect. Sadly these important dignities have been largely forgotten in today’s society.
SRINAGAR: The Information Age has put technology at the forefront of human communication, making today a little less personal than days of the past. Instead of treating our elders with appreciation and respect they deserve, many are often too busy or simply dismiss them and their contributions to community and family.
After 1990 when the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley took place, the people of this community got scattered all over the globe and the most sufferers were the parents and grandparents. Children of the community hardly stayed with their parents upto the completion of their basic education and after that they left the home for better education in view of the limited avenues available around them especially in Jammu which is a concentrated area of Kashmiri Pandits.
After 1990, in the initial years of migration there were difficulties in getting accommodations which resulted in the scattering of the community but with the time, most of the people got settled as per their economic stature. Slowly and steadily children started moving out for their education and jobs. It is the time now when the households of most KP concentrated areas look deserted and thousands of such households are found with elderly people living in these alone. This is also true that Jammu gives them a feeling of their motherland because of social connections at this place but this is also true that most of the children have abandoned their aged elders. They are only being remembered for economic helps and babysitting.This is a major crisis Kashmiri Pandit community is facing. There are hundreds of such cases.
There are numerous reasons why adult children abandon their parents , for what appears to be no reason. Most of the reasons don’t amount to a hill of beans when you as a parent are in the throes of traumatic lost memory. However later, when you are calmer, you may want to understand why such losses occur.
We need to remember to respect old aged parents because sometimes they are not able to assert themselves and demand the respect that is due to them. They may be confused or anxious. They may have difficulty with their mobility. They may have difficulty using their hands. They may find it hard to say what they feel.
It is everyone’s duty to take care of their parents ,as they have done the same for you.
But in some cases it is very difficult and especially in families with many siblings , not everyone shoulders the responsibilities and one particular sibling ends up bearing the burden. They become bitter and lose their freedom and independence. And the worst thing is that in spite of all this the parent/ parents take out all their frustration on this caregiver child as she/he is the only one available.
People might say it is a matter of personal choice. Well, many make that choice and abandon their parents to fend for themselves during their last days.
These are the people who took care of us during our most vulnerable ages and they certainly didn’t do it out of necessity. We should show some gratitude for their sacrifices and at the very least, be there for them when they are most vulnerable or take them with us to our place wherever it is.
Abandoning your parents put them to depression which can affect every aspect of their life, impacting energy, appetite, sleep, and interest in work, hobbies, and relationships.
Supporting them financially is important as well… but all the money spent on the old age homes, international phone calls, meaningless gifts will pale in comparison to even just a minute of lucid joy or comfort that the parent might feel seeing their children by their side when they complete this earthly sojourn.
After they depart this world, no amount of self pity or realisation will help assuage our guilt for not having been there for them when they needed us most.
Choice of a single child and then the compulsions of this child is another big reason when parents don’t get attention. It has increasingly become important now to live in multiple occupancies like residential flats with facilities for senior citizens. Many such projects are coming up in India and it may become a compulsion to live in such places to ease down the pressure on children.
Every time a child is not at fault. In present world children too have limited resources to provide attention and facilities to the parents, therefore it is important to plan such living in advance. The community is shrinking day by day, therefore like minded people can stay together in such places and can be helpful to each other.