Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wishes for the Elderly

Circa 1995. Came across the beautiful  walled  world of the Little Sisters  of the Poor & Home for the Aged in Hyderabad.
Walked in. More curious than anything else. Had time  on my side.

I was welcomed by a world of experienced wrinkes and toothless smiles. Where  every face  still had hope and every eye had the twinkle of life. Where the Sisters worked selflessly to clean, care and  help the aged folk live life like they would have led back home.

Curiousity turned into an urge to be a part of it. I  volunteered to help them for the two weeks I was there.
Every morning saw me walk into the flowered lawns and the shaded verandahs. The men and the women lived in separate wings but had common dining areas and lounges. I would spend my time  talking to the ladies and the gentlemen . About themselves, their lives.
Some were too old to  walk around, so I sat next to them  and talked . Actually listened while they spoke. They wanted someone who would listen. Who had time.

Most of them showed me their prized possessions. Pictures. Usually a sepia toned album or framed ones. Of the times gone by. Happy sons  overseas with wives and families, grandchildren, and beloved ones who are no more.

Lunchtimes were fun. The Sisters would serve  hot steaming rice, curry, dal and the people there would hand around their own pickles, jam, preserves etc which their families would have left behind for them or sent them occasionally. We all said a prayer of thanks together before digging in. The Sisters would insist that I eat with them, so I did. Those were the best meals I had ever had.

Finally it was  time to bid adieu.
Some took it well. Some had tears. Some gave me small gifts- a knitted bootie, a  book, a pen... all out of their belongings. Some held my hands - as if asking me to wait for another day....

As I stood in the Secunderabad station waiting to board for Kolkatta, My mind went back to the Little Sisters Home. And then I felt a hand on my shoulder. Looked back- there was a small group of men. My friends from the Home.My eyes swelled with tears.

They handed me a newspaper wrapped parcel, saying it's a little something for my journey.

Once the train chugged its way out of the city, I opened the parcel. It was a packet of hot samosas, with a small note. "Thank you Babita. For your time with us."

With another year passing by , I think of such homes and such lives.And realise that even if we have no family, we just need to reach out . There is enough love and warmth out there for everyone.

Little Sisters of the Poor & Home for the Aged
6-1-33, Beside Gandhi Hospital, Opposite Patel Timber Depot, New Bhoiguda, Musheerabad, Secunderabad - 500048
Contact Information
Telephone: 2750-6194, 2761-6194, 2780-2139

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