I have so many thoughts of how to begin this conversation between us, I keep thinking how to Introduce this meeting, how to Initiate an exchange... How to "Start"? Nevertheless what crops up my mind is a new born baby. A life just started, a journey of experience beginning, the first few pages of Book of Emotions & Choices.
Somehow, for a moment, like an unruly Reader I am, my attention diverts to the last pages of the Book. The Apparent End of the Story that keeps the audience grasped into its web as intricately as the characters. And once the journey begins, the only real Destination is the End.
Old Age is something that is bestowed upon most of the living (not to forget Ageing is not that uncommon a term or process associated with Non-Living also). On the way to old age, an individual having traversed the paths of life, has collected moments of joy, sadness, success, failure... the list is endless; yet when the feeling of senility sinks in, they seem to realize the fragility of their time, of course in their own unique ways. Some double their efforts to achieve what they couldn't, some start securing a future for their children in their absence, some kick back and decide to enjoy what they had been putting off for so long and some unfortunate ones are haunted by the regrets of life, of the guilt of having made mistakes, of the feeling of being a disappointment.
Whatever be One's choice during the final stage of their earthly time, all feel short of time. Some follow their choices on the path of virtue, For some the end justifies the means. Yet, most of them find themselves left alone as opposite to the desire of being with who or what they hold dear. They have heard the words "World has changed... Generation Gap... It's time for someone new" in their own times, but it's now that their true meaning sinks in.
Old aged people are not always the nicest (Believe me, I know) but yet, they are as fragile as babies, and equally important. Most of them have so many things to say, but in the meagre 24 hours a day anyone hardly has the time for casual listening. But well as stubborn as babies, they would chatter away anyway (all those who have had grandparents or old parents knows what I mean). Most of them are so Proud of them being senior they wouldn't listen to a word anyone else says. Yet, in all the stubbornness, I get a hint of effort to affirm that they are needed, still wanted... that time has not changed so much as to leave them behind.
What is so stupid about us Humans is we never realize the true importance of what we have is until we've lost it. As the young, we lose time, and then brood over it when we are old. And as we are old, the young never seem to realize what we mean to them until we are gone.
For a story I remember an old Caretaker of the Paying Guest house I stayed in during the last year. He chatted with me whenever I went back to the Guest House, complained to me about all the other tenants, asked me about any complaints, even vented out some anger somebody else deserved on me when I asked him to get something for me (he apologized in no time after that, and sincerely I would add). He was working 3 states away from his entire family, all alone here, just so that he could add something to the family's meagre earnings; even though he had 2 sons. He faced the dilemmas of obeying the landlady or letting the tenants have their way. As is usually the case of a good simple guy, he faced the music (I wonder how it is music; most of the time it comprises of words more killing than a bee's sting), from both the landlady and the other tenant boys. And he told me all this, because I thought it was nice to have someone to at least listen to once you were back home.
When it was time for me to leave that place this year, I never expected anyone to be bothered except the landlady (she had to give back me deposit). But when I told him the decision to depart, for a minute he just stood there, silent & open-mouthed. At that time he held my bag and asked me not to go. I told him it was normal, there would be some other guy in my place soon. But he insisted that I stay. He even offered to be at my service whenever I wanted, and enquired if there was any wrong doing on his part. As I explained to him in unimportant words, tears peeked from his eyes. He asked who he would talk to when I am gone. Who would help him out in explaining things to otherwise arrogant young brats who hardly cared what he wanted to say or did. I could not answer. And then he went down. I kept on packing thinking about him, his plight, the tone of his plea for me to stay. Was it that important to him the little time I listened and talked to him?
People of Old Age, are as varied in their personalities as any group of Humans would be. Still what bothers me is, that are treated as more unimportant than the rest. Senility is as time of cherishing as is any other stage of life. But it brings with itself many a curses too... illnesses, frail bodies, withering minds. Maybe the difference that is ascertained by it is that an Old person needs to be cherished by us more, rather than the other way around. Because once time is lost, there's no bringing it back.
One has to accept being Human. Young and Old both. Still... I wonder if we have begun considering Being Human as our "Saving Grace", as our excuse.
Until next time.... :)