I always wanted to visit an old age home someday, but did not know even God was on my side. A couple of weeks ago, my long cherished dream was fulfilled and I got a chance to pay a visit to senior citizens’ home. It was a two storied building, well maintained and built in the suburbs of Jalandhar. The gatekeeper began to question us what made us to visit that place, I told him that I am a writer and want to hunt for some real, tragic stories of people residing in that place. With paranoid smile, he directed us to go inside the building.
We entered the building and had the first tet-e tete with the manager of the authority. He also posed the same question, “Mam, what brings you here”? I replied rather honestly that I was always interested in knowing the real stories of people, who had to leave there homes and live in a place like this! Satisfied by my answer, he agreed to fix a meeting with some inmates of the house. I was glad.
We were taken to a room in the first story of the house, I entered the room and saw a man and guessed that he must be an octogenarian! I wished him and he directed me to sit. It was going to be the first live interview of my life, I was nervous, happy and excited! We began to question him politely. The first question that we put to him was,”sir, why are you staying here”? I expected the same old story of children jilting him and so and so, but his reply was rather interesting! He told us that he was unmarried, that is why he was there! Proving my imagination, he almost cleared all the hidden doubts with his answer! Then we questioned him about his story and he was very cooperative in sharing it with us. He started off with his name saying,” I am Dayaanand Bakshi, basically I am from Rawalpindi, Pakistan”, now this was something more interesting, on hearing this, I lost hold of my camera and looked at him pensively! With double interest and excitement, I questioned him,” then how come, you are in India, Sir”? “Partition”, was the abrupt reply! He told about his early education and how difficult it was in those days to receive education, when both the nations were burning! He spoke in length about his love for literature and said that he has a collection of almost 250 books! It heavily interested me and I also admired his neat learning habits. Then we talked about his relatives and the facilities that were provided to him in the house, from his answers, it appeared to me that he was happy and had no regrets so far! We spoke about twenty minutes and then bid him an adieu. He also made my day by saying that, “you seem to be a promising girl and will surely make it big someday”! It was good to hear the words of praise from a man of his caliber, so learned! And disciplined!
Then, we were taken to the second inmate who was a lady, we entered the room and I saw a big picture of her dead husband on the table, I partially understood her story, and started a chat with her. I told her what about her family and she peevishly responded that she had none. There was anger and helplessness in her tone! She even told me that everybody wanted to know her story but nobody tells their story! I smiled and thought that I should respect her feelings and not pose any more questions to her. So, I stood up, bid her an adieu! She shook my hands and blessed me! It was soothing! We thanked the manager and left the place. But, the end is not here! We need to dig out the reasons that why these old age homes are seeing a mushrooming growth in our society! Why is it difficult for people to take care of their aged parents when they deserve their love and care? We need to dig out the reasons! It is time to think and act!