The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

WHO IS SAVITRI KASHIRAM DESAI? - WHY ARE WE GETTING SO CALLOUS TO OUR ELDERLY?

I know her as much as you know her if you have come across news reports about this lady, who had been living on the Chinchpokli platform for three months. On 27th of February, Mumbai’s tabloid Mid Day had published this story about 90-year old Savitri Kashiram Desai that how the Chinckpokli platform had been her home for the past three months; how her son’s family abandoned her after she fell down and became immovable; how the daily commuters started taking care of her brining food and water daily and medicines and clothing as and when needed; how some of them took to the active campaigning to reunite her with her family or find a shelter home for her.

After a day of it, Mid Day published impact story that Savitri Desai’s son had taken her back to home. Probably, the mounting social pressure and the threat of the social stigma forced him to do so. Though, wary of harassment as the consequence of causing social humiliation to her family by being in news for the wrongs committed by the same family, she decided to go back after reassurances by her son and some of her new-found and sincere well-wishers. One of them said he would visit Savitri Desai at least once a week to see if she was being treated well.

Savitri Desai at Chinchpokli platform (Photograph sourced from the Internet)
To know more about Savitri Desai, I tried to google with the search string ’90-year-old at Mumbai station’ and what the first page showed told was corresponding to the large scale deterioration of ethos of everything that we perceive as the Indian way of life. Though being so specific ‘a search criterion’, the search result showed other cases where a 90-year-old was thrown out of the house by family members. This is what I bumped in on the first page of Google search. (I am not going into some similar story headlines linked on further pages.)

  • Mumbai: son takes abandoned 90-yr-old mother home
  • Son takes abandoned 90-yr-old mother home
  • Abandoned by family, 90-yr-old lives on railway platform
  • 90-year-old living at railway station collected by son - NDTV.com
  • Discarded by kin, 90-yr-old lives on railway platform @ Mumbai
  • 90-year-old found murdered in her flat, News - City - Mumbai Mirror
  • Son arrested for killing 90-year-old woman - Times of India
  • 90 year old man thrown out of the house by daughter-TV9 – YouTube
  • 90-year-old living at railway station collected by son - AJ Allmendinger
On the first page, I found this story where a man killed his 90-year old mother while the other one said a 90-year old was thrown out of the house by son-in-law and daughter. (Link to the TV9 story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4cjLID0e24)

It is miserable for a society that preaches the world positives of the joint family systems. It is pathetic for a society that preaches Orientalism to the world.

It is horrible by the very magnitude of the multiplying number of such incidents. India might bask in the glory of having the largest chunk of the working-age population but it is yet to move actively on handling a larger threat of social disintegration that is staring right at the face.  

According to the data and projection of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, India had around 98 million people over the age of 60 and this figure is projected to be 173 million headcounts by 2026, we can say almost 10 per cent of the population.  

Given the way, the social norms are trending in India; more and more elderly people are going to live alone, either by the migration of their kids to better career avenues or by forced separation as was the case with Savitri Desai.

While doing some random search, I came across this Times of India report of 2009 that said two senior citizens got abandoned daily in Chennai. Another NGO report says quoting an estimate that around 40 per cent of the senior citizens living with their families face some sort of abuse. I wish this report is wrong as I could not authenticate the veracity but even my personal experience, too, has been quite disturbing.

While collecting data for old-age homes and the reasons behind the increasing number of people in such homes, I can say almost of the elderly people living in the old-age homes have bitter truth of forced separation from their families. They miss them but most of them do want to reunite.

Another disturbing aspect is that over 23 million elderly are classified below the poverty line and one of the World Health Organization studies found that economic dependence was a major factor in increasing cases of elderly abuse in India.

Savitri Desai’s case reminds me of Mr. Moterro, a resident of a Badarpur old-age home. He was there for some time before one of his relatives came and took him back. We came to know later on that Mr. Monterro has some property in his name. Though we don’t doubt the relative who took him back but at the same time, we cannot ignore the fact the he was abandoned by his family.

So like that well-wisher of Savitri Desai, we, too, have plans to have some visits of Mr. Monterro. I hope we will come across a happy and content Mr. Monterro. I pray for peaceful days in the prime of Savitri Desai’s life.

There are legal remedies for elderly but nothing works as very few are able to get support to follow the dark alleys of the Indian juducial system. We need the mindset change.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/