Our Marvelous Seniors!

Our marvelous seniors!

Of late, we come across a lot of articles and write ups about the plight of senior citizens.  There are number of forums and associations to ease their physical and emotional difficulties faced in their day to day lives.  Lot of awareness is created through media about their needs.  But I am attracted by a section of senior citizens who are not aware of the new terms like ‘empty nest syndrome’, etc.  They don’t have to bother about tax payment, collecting their pension arrears, payment of various bills on time, going for monthly medical checkup, waiting for Sundays to chat with their children and grand children living overseas, etc.  Who are they?

To name a few, sixty plus, lean and short Kamalamma, who is a watch(wo)man(?!) -  guards the gate in a residential apartment, makes sure that the water tank is full always, sweeps the surrounding area untiringly and she is readily available to the residents, whenever their maid servants fail to turn up.  Kuppamma and Lakshmi who are aged between 60 and 70, stand in the queue while it is still dark whether it rains or shines and bring the milk packets to our door steps while we are still sleeping. I have to mention Keerai karamma (no one knows her name) who must be over 75 years of age, who brings a basket full of greens every morning for a meager five rupees per bunch. She climbs the stairs carrying her basket on her head and with her trembling fingers rings every apartment’s bell nonstop until someone comes out.  Sometimes, people get irritated and yell at her.  She takes the shouts with her attractive smile and starts giving a lecture about the health benefits of greens.   Just to get rid of her, even when it is not required people end up buying.  In spite of all this, if she doesn’t turn up due to rain or sickness, her customers miss her and start enquiring about her worriedly.

In my eyes, they are not only earning their living but they are service providers to the community.  Their service is so valuable.  Yet, the financial compensation they get is so humble.  Each one of them might be having a tragic story behind.  Yet, they don’t have the luxury of lying down and ruminating about the past because they have to earn their bread.  If they don’t go out and work, no one will bother to feed them.  They are so busy that they don’t have time to complain about anyone or anything. 

I tried asking two of them if they are willing to go to a senior citizen’s home which is absolutely free run by an NGO.  Their reaction was unexpected.  Both of them said who wants to live in a home without doing any work! They are so confident. Their self respect is amazing! They don’t think about their past or their future.  They live for the moment.  They don’t complain about anyone or anything. They are happy if they get their daily bread.  They are elated when someone gives them a meal or a sari or a blouse.  Their needs are limited.  They are content when they are satisfied.  Above all, when they go to bed (a plain mat without even a pillow), without fan or air conditioner they sleep peacefully. They don’t need any sleeping pill either.

We need to learn a lot from these marvelous seniors.  Not only that, the government has to look at the aged street vendors and do something to alleviate their hardship.  This seems to be a totally neglected sector.  As individuals, we have to be kind and the least we can do is, not to bargain with them too much. 


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