Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Kerala Cafe"


The night was warm but it was about the humidity that we spoke about. The sky was cloudy and that shut out the stars. But more than the absence of a starry sky, the cloudy night was a matter of discomfort. The terraced balcony of the house was half shaded by a canopy roof, underneath which it was warmer than out in the open terrace.

What the nine of us who gathered up there did not acknowledge was that it was not an inconsiderate weather that was enhancing the humidifying feel, but the warmth of whiskey and Vodka that we were liberally ingesting. The spouses were down inside the house congregated presumably around the dining table fanned by the cool breeze of the ceiling fan.  The twenty-fifth wedding day anniversary dinner of a friend was what that brought us together at his house.

“Hey, by the way how about your father? Is he better now?  I asked B.
“Well how can it be better? It is getting worse.” B said.
Well, I remember when we last met you mentioned that he was not too bad and was back home from the hospital.”
“Yes, yes he is home. But then he has forgotten how to get out of his cot. You can see what would happen if we try to get up from bed only using our legs and that when an eighty five year old man does, it would be inviting agony for him and trouble for others.” I felt I noticed a glimpse of a tiny streak of irritation in B’s face and in the words. B continued. “I’m really worried for him if he has forgotten what a fall is .A fall, a broken bone can be very difficult in his age and in the mental state that he is.”
I nodded in agreement.

B said. “I fear he is fast losing all mental faculties. And besides that he is reasonably fine for a person of his age. That in fact is compounding the problem for him and for others.”
“In a way he is fortunate B. There are people to take care of him, I mean his children. Didn’t we hear the story on TV the other day when five children forsake their old mother- casting her away at a temple town? Then when the district administration and police traced them, they refused to accept the mother back. They were even not deterred by the threat from the District Collector to slap criminal charges against them.” BJ who was a professor said.

“Yes, that was raw negligence and ungratefulness. Wasn't it?” said I. “Remember TC.” I said referring to our host. “He had to bear with his mother for five long years. She was bedridden and was struck by dementia. Lucky for her he and his wife took good care of her. It was not the money alone that matters in such cases. It is the goodness of heart, whether children or stranger.”

“I have no hope for these words and deeds such as of gratefulness and gracious. They are luxurious nouns and adjectives meant for eulogies and sycophancy. They are all defunct in today’s world. And I have decided that I will have nothing to do with my son when I’m old and if I live long. I will sign my savings to a hospice or an old age care and be comfortable. One has to be stupid to tag on to their children hoping they will take care of us when we are old. One has to be practical and feel no anguish about. They, the young too have a life to live. Don’t they? And if the old outlive and become encumbrance, do we still blame the young and their attitude?” P said aboveboard. He in fact had signed and legalised a document consigning his cadaver to the medical school and also donated his organs that could be harvested.

B was completely in agreement with P. He said.  “We cannot be judgmental. To slur those people who left their old mother will be unfair. They were being as P said practical. Perhaps they ran out of options. Didn’t you see the movie “Kerala CafĂ©” where a scene shows this man who had to cast away his mother who was afflicted by Alzheimer’s? The agony and raw torment he faced was well copied. What could he do? Abject poverty and no way he could feed or take care of the old woman; a cantankerous wife but to blame her was unfair. She was beyond her tether of her patience and forbearance; little children to take care and above all he were the only person to bring home bread.”

Now it was P who said. “Now listen, Man as a species was meant to live and procreate. Nothing more and nothing less. Nature have never intended Man to live beyond say forty or fifty years life span. It is the so called progress, inventions, discoveries, science etc. that has given man longevity, well beyond what was sustainable from Natures’ point of view. Come on yar our productive procreative life begins to ebb after forty. The prime is over in the forties. And what else are we here for. All this sociological commitments, the notion that “Man”, with a big Capital “M” is more  advanced, developed intellectually than beast, we cannot compare us to beasts etc. are bunkum.  They are off shoot of our conceited inflated self, our false feeling, and our silly belief in our prominence.”

We were going through a very interesting discussion.

“But why then do we have faculties of cognition, contemplation, and reasoning? Aren’t we differently evolved than beasts, though we are not in any way superior? Certainly each species is superior in its own ways learning to survive. Isn't it so?” I wanted to say but by then the call from downstairs for dinner was relayed to us  and we had to leave the matter and move down.

5 comments:

rudraprayaga said...

Very true,Anil. Oldies are wastes nowadays either due to selfish mottoes or want of time of the successors.In some cases poverty is an intricacy.

Alzheimers gnaw the memory of oldsters.
Many writers,thinkers etc.became prey for such tantrums.

Well-narrated.Nice.

Rama Ananth said...

Yes , even i feel the same way. we gave birth to our children not with the idea of having them take care of us in our old age. It is too much for them or for us also. I only pray I die before I reach 65/68. We can be healthy and active till then after that it is always risky, any careless fall may make us bedridden for life.
even if death doesn't come to us before that, it is always better to register ourselves in some hospice, and also make it known to all our relatives and the concerned organization how we want to donate the various parts of our body after our death.
In India, I see we are so involved with performing all the rituals, that we forget that instead of trying to do the rituals we should concentrate on taking all the body, before it is too late and make arrangements for that. i have seen people go about the ritual business, and don't even donate the eyes.
It is true in olden days people lived only at most up to 50 years, very rarely did they cross 70. And death was also, not so fancy, it was either a heart attack or something like that. We had never heard of the word Cancer, Cataract, Chemotherapy, Aid etc.
Life was simple living with the parents and other close relatives together in a joint family.
But these modern day medicines are making us live longer, and everybody seems to live long, there are people still living in their late 90s, some are sensible and make arrangements for themselves, while others still hang on to their children, who themselves have become senior citizens. Such people are not able to enjoy their youth nor can they enjoy their retired life, for them looking after their old parents is a big punishment.
It is really sad situation. My brother and my sister in law are going through the same situation, being there our my father is who 93.

BK Chowla, said...

Whatever be the case or circumstances,no one has the moral right to leave their parents in Old Age homes to rot.
Some day,we too will get old

Tracy Terry said...

What a wonderfully atmospheric start to this post,your opening paragraph really was something.

Interesting to read and especially given that my father in law has a form of dementia. It was also interesting to read the above comments and especially that of BK Chowla.

Ashwini C N said...

Parents would normally expect that their children love them and take care of them. In certain circumstances when taking care in person is not possible, I wouldn't say it's wrong for the children to leave the parents in the old age homes.If Both of them understand the situation they are in.But at any point we shouldnt consider them a burden.