Sunday, July 24, 2016

Is Longevity a Curse...?

Earlier – I thought that longevity was a boon. 

Now – after seeing the plight of elderly senior citizens – in their 80’s and 90’s – especially old lonely infirm widows waiting for death – I am beginning to change my views – and – I feel that longevity is more of a curse than a boon. 

All this made me remember a story I had written 2 years ago  in July 2014 – after a visit to an uncle.

Musings of a Retired Mind

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 used to visit 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 – he 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 (USA)  and 4 grandchildren  all 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 we had decided to stay in the US permanently – but we had to come back to India.”

“You had to come back to India...? 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. My mother-in-law 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...” my uncle 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 I saw why my uncle 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 in their 60’s and 70’s – 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  and – you are expected to look after your parents even when you yourself have retired and become a senior citizen  and you need to be looked after.

Yes – you have to look after your parents at a time when you yourself need to be looked after. 

Senior Citizens are expected to look after Super Senior Citizens”.

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 if you remain in India. 

This makes me wonder:

Is Longevity a Boon...?

Or – is Longevity a Curse...? 


I wrote this story 2 years ago in July 2014.

My uncle’s mother-in-law passed away one year ago in 2015.

“Liberated” from the shackles of looking after the old woman – my uncle and his wife have gone abroad to live with their NRI children who are well settled in the US.

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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 stories 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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