Saturday May 18, 2024

Old homes -- a compulsion or a choice

April 15, 2024
This representational image shows an old-age home. — Chhipa Welfare Association Website/File
This representational image shows an old-age home. — Chhipa Welfare Association Website/File

Islamabad: With eyes staring at entrance gate and heart aching for close sibling, the dwellers of old homes spent another Eid in deep desire to have someone loving besides them whose warmth they could feel.

When people were enjoying Eid with families and friends, there were a few living in deep anguish and pain - abandoned by their dear ones and forced to live at an Old Home.

Living at a charity home becomes more painful when your own children, for whom you had toiled hard your whole life, are very much in the same vicinity or the city and refuse to even own and recognize you.

It was at Pakistan Baitul Mall (PBM) Old Home, Lahore when Mr Sha passed away in January this year after nine years long association with Old Home.

But, none of his heirs were ready to receive his body. “We called his only son who lives here in Lahore and asked him to take his body for burial. But, his reply was agonising, informed Assistant Director Old Homes, Talat Ghauri. His son stated, “Why you called us.

He had died for us 15 years back. Please bury him yourselves.” It was also painful to know that Mr Sha had not mentioned his son’s name in the list of heirs but his cousin, a doctor whatever the reasons but this situation can have multiple dimensions.

Why an end to someone like Mr Sha, is it paying back by the Nature for some evil deeds he might had committed in his youth to his parents or it is a Nature’s test for Mr Sha’s children to prove their allegiance. This is an earthly happening.

It is more or less everywhere around us where we see parents and children disagreeing, arguing, squabbling, wrangling, quarrelling on multiple issues.

But, commonly these are sorted out and in some cases parents themselves make decisions like Rana Muhammad, a 76 years old father, residing at the same Old Home at Lahore. “I have not been abandoned by my children. I am here by choice,” remarked Rana.

After the death of my wife, I was extremely lonely. My children tried to compensate, but it was becoming difficult. So, I myself decided to come here where I am happy with my fellows.

His children frequently visit him, take care of his needs and health and also take him home on leave from Old Home. Now, I am going to my native town on one month leave to celebrate Eid with my children and grandchildren.

This is an amicable solution for me and my children. There are also instances where children had settled abroad and neither could come back to live with their parents or take them abroad.

But, they have not discarded their parents and take care for them even living thousands miles away. Azhar Mahmood, is another passionate father whose daughter is settled in United States as a doctor.

But, she fully takes care of her father’s material needs as for emotional needs she herself had to be here. “I came here three years back when my wife passed away. My daughter is in United States. I have no financial issues. Daughter sends me as much money as required,” Azhar says. “I know, she can’t come here to live with me. I do not want her to leave her job for me. I only desire that she talks to me on phone off and so I can hear her voice.”

In amicable settlements, sometimes the Old Home may be a better choice. But, when parents are rebuked, discarded, dissociated, sent to Old Homes and even are not owned when they die; this is shameful and cursed by even Allah Almighty warning of twice punishment once in this world and once in hereafter.

“It is the most painful when children refuse to take bodies of their deceased parents for burial and sometimes even change their phone numbers,” regretted Old Home’s Director Muhammad Azam.

“What can be the explanation to this attitude? Perhaps these kids forget that one day they will also be elderly, Azam remarked. Allah Almighty has bestowed us with countless bounties and a set of rights and duties.

And when it comes to rights of Allah, his Prophet and Parents; His commands are ample clear and authoritative. When you find them both or any of them in their old age; never be even a bit harsh to them; Talk them obediently and bow in their service, is more or less the meaning of the verses of Holy Quran as Allah lays much emphasis on parents rights.

With the societal transformation, undesired financial issues and an onslaught of exotic cultures posing serious threat to our social fabric, we need a comprehensive strategy to avoid parents-children uneasiness.

And even if, this uneasiness grows resulting in separations; there should be an alternate plan to facilitate elderly properly instead of leaving them on mercy of inhuman treatment of their obstinate offspring. Note: Some names have been deliberately left incomplete to avoid humiliation for family members.