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An Empty Nest

About Kavita Iyer

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Kavita Iyer has a closely knit family and friends. Her passion for writing poems started from college days and they used to get published in college magazines. This motivated her to write more during free time. She loves Urdu shayaris and have also attempted to compose a few. Apart from poems and shayaris Kavita is inclined towards writing short stories, motivational essays that bring some positive vibrance to routine life.

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“The old woman’s hand became lighter

When her son lifted her bag,

But her heart became heavier

As they approached a gate that read “An Old Age Home”.

Known as ‘Gurukrupa Old Age Home’ it is a well-known NGO located in the city of Palghar in Konkan division of Maharashtra. An old but well maintained structure, this serves as another home for many aged, homeless and lonely people, who want to live life with dignity and above all, they want to be secure. No doubt the best place for elders is their own home, but…

This is the story of Geeta Tai, whose son had to move abroad with his family due to his official commitments, due to which it was mutually decided by his family to leave the mother in this old age home as an alternative housing rather than staying alone, since cities are no longer safe, nor can friendly neighbours be completely trusted.

PART I:

The early morning view of Gurukrupa is the sight of some grandpas and grandmas sitting on an easy chair in the balcony reading newspapers, some sipping tea, some chatting and smiling. The reception room is busy with hustle bustle of the nurses and caretakers who are always on their toes. One will not deny the fact that taking care of elderly people is no less than taking care of a baby.

Tring Tring.” Rang the landline phone kept of the reception. A lady came running to pick up the call. “Geeta Tai, It’s for you!” she called out loudly. Geeta Tai, clad in an off-white saree, walked out slowly from her room towards the reception. She could not walk briskly, due to her age. She had a very frail structure with a hump on her back. She was among the oldest in this nursing home, and was there almost from the time it had incepted. So she was familiar with everyone there. Though Geeta Tai was aged, she had a verycalm and composed appearance, wearing a pleasant smile on her wrinkled face.

After her husband had left for heavenly abode, her only son had got her here since he had to move to US with his family to work on some official project. He could not take his mom along with him thinking she will not be able to adjust with the climate there at this age. Since it was also not safe to stay alone, he had made arrangements for her stay here until his project completion abroad.

The call was made by her son who used to touch base with her often to check on her health and also to inform her that the money has been deposited in the nursing home, which took care of her medicines and other expenses.

“Hello Mom, how is your health now”? her son asked.

“I am fine”, she said and before she could ask anything further, the conversation abruptly ended with an “OK Bye, shall call you later”.

She had felt some change in the voice of her son during his last few phone calls as well. When she enquired once, he had told that it was due to the chilly weather out there. He had caught cold! She wanted to know how his health was but……the conversations nowadays had become very brief and to the point. With a sad face, she put the phone receiver back in place and went back to her room to settle on her bed.

Though Geeta Tai had been in this home since past so many years, and had made good friends with her acquaintances, deep inside the loneliness always pierced through her. Silent tears often flowed from her grey weary eyes but she would wipe them off and hide her emotions. She just wanted to see her son and be with him. She only had one close friend Shama, with whom she would share her feelings.

It was late in the evening. Geeta Tai was sitting by her bedside, some tea and biscuits, the regular snacks, were offered by the caretaker. But she was in no mood to have them, as she was not in the best of health. She had mild fever that day and was under medication. She  turned her head towards the window by her bedside. Holding the window sill, she was staring at the roadway and the busy streets when suddenly she heard a nursery rhyme from some faraway place.

“Ring a Ring a Roses, Pocket full of posies, Hasha Husha, All fell down”, followed by giggles. Geeta Tai was curious to know where this noise came from. Though her ears were still strong, her eye sight had by now become weak and hence she was struggling to have a view. Finally her eyes landed on a day care centre which was newly opened just few metres away. The nursery rhyme that she could hear softly was from some children who were playing holding their hands, standing in a circle, giggling, falling with a thud and singing in chorus “All fell down”. A smile appeared on Geeta Tai’s face after a long time. After all, the kiddish behaviour of children acted as an anti-depressant for her, as she had almost forgotten to smile since past so many months! She was missing her son, Aman so much.

To be Continued……….

 

PART II

Geeta Tai’s memories flashed back to those days when her son Aman too used to sing such nursery rhymes with great delight. He was a very naughty and pampered brat and also favourite of all teachers. As a kid, he never used to let his mother go out of his sight even for a moment. She had even quit her Government job for Aman as she did not want to put her kid in any day care for the entire day. In those days Government jobs were considered to be the most dignified and secured jobs. For her, like any mother, the kid was her first priority.

But now Aman was no more a kid, she had grown old and the time had come for her bird to leave his nest and fly to achieve his own dreams, thereby making it empty. Though this was heart breaking for Geeta Tai, she knew this is what life is all about! She believed in the saying that “Raising a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you have done your job! They are not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own!”

Memories bring joys as well as sorrows. There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief. Today when Geeta Tai was unwell, these memories only pricked her more. She had nobody around to call her own, neither her husband nor her son. With a heavy heart, she just went off to sleep without having dinner. The nurse who came to wake her up for medicines at night, did not disturb her, seeing her deep in sleep. Quietly she went away, as Geeta Tai had not had good sleep in past few days due to her ill health.

That night Geeta Tai slept but never woke up; she went into an eternal sleep. The entire staff were grief stricken and had gathered near her bed the following morning. There was one thing that was bothering all of them, one truth that they had hidden from her! It was about the sad news of her son’s untimely death in US, wherein he and his family had become victims of a terrorist attack and had succumbed to death. This fact was never told to her by her caretakers as they felt at this age, she will not be able to withstand the fact that her son was no more.

After a while, her only close friend Shama who was weeping inconsolably, handed out a prized possession that Geeta Tai had given her few months back. Geeta Tai had asked her to keep it with her since she was suffering from amnesia of late and did not want to lose that piece of information. The hospital staff gazed at it to find out what it was! It was a cut out from a newspaper that read “Eight people killed in New York ‘act of terror’”. The names of the deceased were given in the extract, and Geeta Tai had underlined her sons and his family’s names using a highlighter. Her friend Shama told the entire staff that Geeta Tai was very much aware of this shaking incident of her son but she kept mum as she consoled herself by the fake call made by her son’s friend who pretended to be her son. She did not want to dishearten her son’s friend, who played the role of a good Samaritan. Geeta Tai’s unending wait for her son was fulfilled by God in heaven! Amen.

“The old woman’s hand became lighter

When her son lifted her bag,

But her heart became heavier

As they approached a gate that read “An Old Age Home”.

Known as ‘Gurukrupa Old Age Home’ it is a well-known NGO located in the city of Palghar in Konkan division of Maharashtra. An old but well maintained structure, this serves as another home for many aged, homeless and lonely people, who want to live life with dignity and above all, they want to be secure. No doubt the best place for elders is their own home, but…

This is the story of Geeta Tai, whose son had to move abroad with his family due to his official commitments, due to which it was mutually decided by his family to leave the mother in this old age home as an alternative housing rather than staying alone, since cities are no longer safe, nor can friendly neighbours be completely trusted.

The early morning view of Gurukrupa is the sight of some grandpas and grandmas sitting on an easy chair in the balcony reading newspapers, some sipping tea, some chatting and smiling. The reception room is busy with hustle bustle of the nurses and caretakers who are always on their toes. One will not deny the fact that taking care of elderly people is no less than taking care of a baby.

Tring Tring.” Rang the landline phone kept of the reception. A lady came running to pick up the call. “Geeta Tai, It’s for you!” she called out loudly. Geeta Tai, clad in an off-white saree, walked out slowly from her room towards the reception. She could not walk briskly, due to her age. She had a very frail structure with a hump on her back. She was among the oldest in this home, and was there almost from the time it had been founded. She was familiar with everyone there. Though Geeta Tai was aged, she had a very calm and composed appearance, wearing a pleasant smile on her wrinkled face.

After her husband had left for heavenly abode, her only son had got her here since he had to move to US with his family to work on some official project. He could not take his mom along with him thinking she will not be able to adjust with the climate there at this age. Since it was also not safe to stay alone, he had made arrangements for her stay here until his project completion abroad.

The call was made by her son who used to touch base with her often to check on her health and also to inform her that the money has been deposited in the nursing home, which took care of her medicines and other expenses.

“Hello Aai, how is your health now”? her son asked.

“I am fine beta”, she said and before she could ask anything further, the conversation abruptly ended with an “OK Bye, shall call you later”.

She had felt some change in the voice of her son during his last few phone calls as well. When she enquired once, he had told that it was due to the chilly weather out there. He had caught cold! She wanted to know how his health was but……the conversations nowadays had become very brief and to the point. With a sad face, she put the phone receiver back in place and went back to her room to settle on her bed.

Though Geeta Tai had been in this home since past so many years, and had made good friends with her acquaintances, deep inside the loneliness always pierced through her. Silent tears often flowed from her grey weary eyes but she would wipe them off and hide her emotions. She just wanted to see her son and be with him. She only had one close friend Shama, with whom she would share her feelings.

It was late in the evening. Geeta Tai was sitting by her bedside, some tea and biscuits, the regular snacks, were offered by the caretaker. But she was in no mood to have them, as she was not in the best of health. She had mild fever that day and was under medication. She  turned her head towards the window by her bedside. Holding the window sill, she was staring at the roadway and the busy streets when suddenly she heard a nursery rhyme from some faraway place.

“Ring a ring a roses, pocket full of posies, Hasha Husha, all fell down”, followed by giggles. Geeta Tai was curious to know where this noise came from. Though her ears were still strong, her eye sight had by now become weak and hence she was struggling to have a view. Finally her eyes landed on a day care centre which was newly opened just few metres away. The nursery rhyme that she could hear softly was from some children who were playing holding their hands, standing in a circle, giggling, falling with a thud and singing in chorus “All fell down”. A smile appeared on Geeta Tai’s face after a long time. After all, the kiddish behaviour of children acted as an anti-depressant for her, as she had almost forgotten to smile since past so many months! She was missing her son, Aman so much.

 

                                                                                                                                                            Continued in Part II…

Geeta Tai’s memories flashed back to those days when her son Aman too used to sing such nursery rhymes with great delight. He was a very naughty and pampered brat and also favourite of all teachers. As a kid, he never used to let his mother go out of his sight even for a moment. She had even quit her Government job for Aman as she did not want to put her kid in any day care for the entire day. In those days Government jobs were considered to be the most dignified and secured jobs. For her, like any mother, the kid was her first priority.

But now Aman was no more a kid, she had grown old and the time had come for her bird to leave his nest and fly to achieve his own dreams, thereby making it empty. Though this was heart breaking for Geeta Tai, she knew this is what life is all about! She believed in the saying that “Raising a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you have done your job! They are not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own!”

Memories bring joys as well as sorrows. There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief. Today when Geeta Tai was unwell, these memories only pricked her more. She had nobody around to call her own, neither her husband nor her son. With a heavy heart, she just went off to sleep without having dinner. The nurse who came to wake her up for medicines at night, did not disturb her, seeing her deep in sleep. Quietly she went away, as Geeta Tai had not had good sleep in past few days due to her ill health.

That night Geeta Tai slept but never woke up; she went into an eternal sleep. The entire staff were grief stricken and had gathered near her bed the following morning. There was one thing that was bothering all of them, one truth that they had hidden from her! It was about the sad news of her son’s untimely death in US, wherein he and his family had become victims of a terrorist attack and had succumbed to death. This fact was never told to her by her caretakers as they felt at this age, she will not be able to withstand the fact that her son was no more.

After a while, her only close friend Shama who was weeping inconsolably, handed out a prized possession that Geeta Tai had given her few months back. Geeta Tai had asked her to keep it with her since she was suffering from amnesia of late and did not want to lose that piece of information. The hospital staff gazed at it to find out what it was! It was a cut out from a newspaper that read “Eight people killed in New York ‘act of terror’”. The names of the deceased were given in the extract, and Geeta Tai had underlined her sons and his family’s names using a highlighter. Her friend Shama told the entire staff that Geeta Tai was very much aware of this shaking incident of her son but she kept mum as she consoled herself by the fake call made by her son’s friend who pretended to be her son. She did not want to dishearten her son’s friend, who played the role of a good Samaritan. Geeta Tai’s unending wait for her son was fulfilled by God in heaven! Amen.

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