Some weeks ago I had to go to the bank for some work. While I was waiting in line, I noticed this elderly woman who looked like she was in her late eighties, early nineties. She had a shopping bag and a walking stick as she hobbled and stood in line. She had a bad hunchback and was wrapped in warm clothing. What struck me was how she stood in line like the rest of us. Did her bank work like the rest of us. And went on to another shop in the shopping centre.
I could not help but admire her.
Here was a woman who was doing things on her own. An elderly woman. She was independent
And it made me see the stark difference between what happens in countries like India and here. In India, “tradition” says the elderly go on and live with their children. And it is this I hate. Don’t get me wrong…I love my parents and I want to look after them when they are older. But somehow in India, we dis-empower the elderly. And some of them take advantage of that. We give in to their ridiculous whims and fancies because “tradition” and “culture” say we should. We fall prey to their manipulative strategies because God forbid we stand up to them. We unquestioningly agree to their tantrums because again, we are doomed to hell if we do.
Why should we be made to feel guilty if we don’t look after the elderly?
Why can’t we let them live on their own if they are capable?
Because some age-old tradition says so?
Because it’s “in our culture”?
Now, I’m not saying all elderly folk are ‘bad’. But there are quite a few ‘monsters’ out there (one of whom has been living with my family since I was 15 and has made life a living hell…I have been fortunate to escape her clutches but my poor family has not)
By letting elderly folk live with us and do their bidding it’s almost like we are teaching them to become helpless. Think about it — when a person lives by themselves, they have no choice but to cook, clean, do their shopping etc. But if this person is living with someone who will do all of the above, then they are going to stop doing it and expect that and more. It creates helplessness in some and a form of entitlement in others. Moreover, when a person is not doing much work, they are more likely to ruminate. They are more likely to start thinking about all the negative things. And they are more likely to get depressed and make others around them miserable. Hence the importance of activity. Now again, I am not saying that people who are bedridden must have to do things themselves. Rather, the able-bodied elderly folk can look after themselves rather than have their sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren become their slaves and wallow in self-pity.
I would like to let everyone out there know that this is a personal issue and a personal gripe of mine. And it has been for the past decade. I think we should all be given the right to not have some elderly folk live with us without being emotionally blackmailed as a consequence. We should be able to choose whether we want the person living with us.
And unfortunately, things like ‘tradition’ and ‘culture’ take away the choice because some people are too scared of the repercussions from society. Of the emotional manipulation from that parent.
Until next time,
P.S. Mum…I know you read my blog now and it kinda makes it harder to blog on stuff like this. This is not in reference to you or dad but rather, you-know-who. So don’t think S and I won’t care for you guys… we would choose to do so.