Linked with Jayati Chowdhury – India.
Published on Boloji.com, by Jayati Chowdhury, October 24, 2004.
3 excerpts: My husband works with a multinational company and very recently we relocated to Brussels, Belgium. Europe, as I had imagined was even more picturesque. For the first few days my mind refused to attend to household chores, but to only capture the lush green surrounding. Our apartment is in the hill top and the view from the balcony is simply breathtaking. It was like a dream come true …
… It was that day I met this elderly gentleman Mr. Jones (deliberately I have not disclosed his name), who asked me details about the huge cake, like for whom did I buy, how old is my son….. He then abruptly asked me to blind guess his age. He looked quite upright and I unquestionably guessed that he was around 65 or so…. He laughed at me and said the day before he celebrated his 55th marriage anniversary and that he is 85 years old. I was taken aback! Anyway, our conversation continued as we were heading the same direction. I learnt that his wife is suffering from Alzheimer and is bed ridden and he takes care of everything. He has two daughters leading their respective lives …
… Upon questioning he informed that he underwent operation on Saturday and that his daughter was kind enough to spend a couple of days at his place to take care of her mother. I tried to restrain but couldn’t help asking who would take care of him? To my unexpected question the answer was a feeble smile and ‘my dear lovely lady we are alone’ My throat was chocked with emotion to hear his answer. Owing to a mammoth cultural difference, I was little apprehensive to offer any help, but I assured him of our presence in his need. My mind dragged me to the Jones couple a number of times and I loved to see them devouring the less spicy Indian food I had prepared for them. Both my husband and I were distressed to perceive their pitiful state.
Few days back Mrs. Jones died and poor Mr. Jones checked into an old home with fond memory of his wife. I met the lonely Mr. Jones in the old home and we had a broad conversation. He narrated his bitter and sweet moments in life. What touched me is his grief-stricken though that old age is inevitable for all and that old people become redundant in this covetous society. That was the last time I met him and although I would love to spend moments with him yet I don’t intend to do so as I was getting very involved with his inconsolable situation.
That day the tête-à-tête with Mr. Jones left an everlasting perception on my mind. In their early years the Jones couple was very important for the institution called family. The erosion of their life also caused decay in their family ties. Staying in the other part of the world I was under the impression of the age old belief that grass is greener on the other side, but this incident shook me to wake up to the realization of the overwhelming conviction of the imminent old age irrespective of place and race. (full text).