Mother Teresa narrated a story to a group of people who had gathered to listen to her experiences. The mother said, “once I picked up a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever; she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My son did this to me.’ I begged her: ‘you must forgive your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself, he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him.’ It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand”.
Post the break-up of the joint families; the old age homes are a fact of life. In those days, members in the joint family or the helpful neighbors or the family doctors attended to the elderly and the aged. The senior most patriarch of a family was called a ‘karta’ and was empowered to take all major decisions of the family concerning social and financial issues: That system is not in vogue. However, it would be incorrect to assume that the saddest senior citizens are found only in the old age homes (OAHs), dead wrong. The sad truth is that the highest perils of brutal and persistent violence come from the confines of their own houses. During my visit to an OAH, many senior citizens testified to such suffering and abuse within their families. In all that, one thing stood out: While the children have learnt to live without their parents, parents are yet to learn how to live without their children, they are too heavily invested emotionally. Many of them did not have the verve to stomach the changed situations in their lives. While a few of them have body ailments, most of them are reeling under mental agony.
In Mexican tradition, it is believed that every human dies three deaths. The first death occurs when one breathes his last. The next death is when he is put into a coffin and lowered into the pit. The third is when his near and dear ones forget about him.
For many, the saddest thing today is, it does not happen in a desired sequence; the third death comes before their first death!
A tragic tale of many a human hearts.