LIFE WITH A PURPOSE: Sujata Natarajan

The Hindu, March 5, 2017
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LIFE WITH A PURPOSE
Sujata Natarajan
‘Uncertain Twilight’*, a four-part series that recently appeared in The Hindu , makes me share my parents’ experience of living in a senior citizens’ home in Coimbatore.
It was a shock, 13 years ago, when my father and mother decided to leave the comfort of their Chennai home and join a senior citizens’ community living complex. Each of their three children went on a guilt trip trying to think what had gone wrong. Which was the moment that triggered them to make the decision to go to Coimbatore?
But the life my parents lived is an example for many senior citizens and future senior citizens too. It was a meaningful life comprising extended families, service to humanity and spirituality.
Life was energetic when my father would wake up early every morning to gather his other friends, some of them healthy like him and some with walkers or walking sticks. His lively banter would touch every aspect of life and benefit every one. It could be a new medical scheme that might be useful to someone, or an investment that might benefit senior citizens, or career prospects for someone’s child or grandchild. The return from the walk would consist of shopping for fruit, a packet of biscuit or some medicine for some friends in the community.
Some more positive energy would flow through as my father would accompany an ailing friend to hospital, or stay with an inpatient till relatives took charge. Writing examinations for blind students as a scribe was a task he loved; many of them are well-placed in life today. My father being a wizard in quick mathematics would request neighbouring bal wadis to allow him to train the students when possible.
His quest of the philosophy of life and death led to his search for an answer. This led to his attending Bhagvad Gita and Upanishad classes from gurus. His standard reply to the frequent invitations by relatives to their homes would be that he could not dream of missing even a single class. The most he would spend in his relatives’ or children’s homes would be a couple of weeks, that too only on special occasions.
My father’s decision to go to Coimbatore was fully supported by my mother. But for her practical approach to life, this would not have been even possible. She takes pride in the fact that she does not need to wait endlessly for her children to visit them some day, to get rid of loneliness. It’s a reversal of roles.
We wait for my parents to take some time off from their busy schedule and visit us.
Although she has lost her best friend, her husband, she is a strong woman and proudly continues to stay in the community living.

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