Friday, July 25, 2014

LONGEVITY – A BOON or A CURSE

LONGEVITY – A BOON or A CURSE
Musings of a Retired Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Sometime ago I visited a distant relative, an uncle.

I had last met him around 35 years ago, when I was a young navy bachelor and I had visited his house in Mumbai where he worked and lived.

Now, he was 75 years old, and he was living in Pune.

He was not in the best of health – he was a heart patient, he had undergone an open heart surgery a few years ago, he could not hear properly and was almost deaf, and he had the usual old age ailments like knee pain, blood pressure etc.

His wife, 72, a diabetic, was not in the best of health too.

They had two daughters, 50 and 48, both married and settled abroad in America, and four grandchildren, in their 20’s.

“Why don’t you live with your daughters in the US?” I asked.

“We did,” the old man said, “we used to visit our daughters often, and, after I retired 15 years ago, we even relocated to America and had decided to stay in the US permanently, but we had to come back to India.”

“You had to come back? Why?” I asked.

“To look after my mother-in-law,” he said.

“You came back to look after your mother-in-law?” I asked, surprised.

“Yes. She is bedridden and she is sleeping in the other room. She is 93 years old. My wife is the only child and there is no one to look after her mother as she was widowed long back and her only brother died 10 years ago. We cannot even take her with us to America because even if they do allow it, my bedridden mother-in-law is in no condition to travel abroad. We are stuck here. Do you know that we haven’t visited our daughters in America for the last 10 years because we can’t leave my mother-in-law alone? So, our daughters come here once a year to visit us. And, as you can see, even we are not in the best of health,” he said.

“It must be very demanding looking after your mother-in-law,” I said.

He said angrily: “Demanding? I am so fed up that I am just waiting for her to …”

I looked up and saw why he had interrupted his sentence – his wife had come in with the tea tray.

On my way home, I thought about it.

Till what age are you expected to look after your parents?

Earlier, parents died when their children were still working, at least before the children retired.

But now, with increasing longevity, with many people living well into their 80’s and even into their 90’s, you are expected to look after your parents even when you yourself had retired and needed to be looked after.

Like my uncle and his wife, who themselves were 75 and 72, and despite their old age and poor health, they were required to look after the 93 year old mother-in-law.

So, even in your old age, you may have to look after your parents and in-laws.

And, like in my uncle’s case, if your children migrate abroad, there will be no one to look after you in your old age.

This makes me wonder – is longevity a boon or a curse?

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
1. These are my personal views based on my observations. The reality may be different. This is just food for thought and should be taken in the right positive spirit.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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