Discarded Humans

Posted: April 30, 2011 in Non-Fiction
Tags: , ,

She sat by the window. Her wrinkled, shaking hands stitching together lost stories and little gaps in her memories. She is soaking up the sun. It was a while since she saw daylight. They had pushed her into a dark corner saying she didn’t deserve to see light. They had slid a plate with food in it, until it landed near her feet. She found herself in prison for her son’s misdeeds. “What did we do to deserve this?” they ask. Nobody has the answer to that query.

She is not the only one in the old age home with such a heart-breaking story. There are several more like her lying on their beds in the old-age home called Aashraya. Discarded by their kith and kin until some good samaritan found them. That good soul who takes care of these elderly ladies is Mrs. Rani. She runs the Aashraya trust for the elderly in a three storied building that she is renting. She invested 7 lakhs of inherited money straight into this. Her brothers got land and coffee estates. She didn’t complain. She had a mission and she went ahead with it. She has seen many come and a few leave with no one to claim their body. They were treated with dignity until their last breath and that matters to her.

 The beds lie close to each other offering comfort and solace. After all misery loves company and they know they are not alone in their struggle, as they reached the end of their lives. A cancer patient lies in her bed. Her hands and legs are like sticks and she cannot sit up. They have left her here since they don’t know what do with her, I was told. Gowramma, another inmate says she is happier here than at the hands of her daughter-in-law and son, who treated her as a maid servant.

 “They threw me out like a stray dog,” she said straight faced. “Someone called Just Dial and I ended up here. I have friends here and we share everything in peace.” Then there are a couple of voluntary inmates who walked in here saying they didn’t want to be a burden on others and wanted to live with dignity as the evening of their lives approached.

 They are fed, clothed and taken good care by the workers. One TV sitting atop a shelf gets their attention. Vacuous stares steer towards the monitor, as they watch in silence whatever it is they are watching. They lived their life. They watched their offspring’s grow and then they realized they were no longer needed.

As I sat there a cute little kitten bounced in. She is called ‘Bhojana’ by Mrs. Rani. The kitten is their bundle of joy. They talk to it, caress it and feed her crumbs. One furry, loving soul, whose love is unconditional; a small streak of light amidst the misery and pain painted in their eyes. Their precious belongings are tucked under the bed; a rusted iron suitcase, some old books, clothes and sandals. That is all they have as possessions. When their last breath is claimed, the bed is cleaned up and awaits other discarded humans.

 Does love have an expiry date on it?

 http://www.aashrayasevatrust.com

Yes, it is the sunset of my life

crippled with age, I’m down on my knees

in a forest of fear, in a maze of loneliness

I cannot be found, yet no one’s to blame

I’m waiting endlessly for you to call my name

And I search with weakening eyes

for that look of love, for that caring smile

it is twilight yet, don’t say good night

-Anon

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