Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The sum of all subtractions

We might safely conclude that if a person starts referring to his past life often in his conversations with others, he is fast approaching his seniority years. Another sure indicator of this, is the constant reminder from him, that in his days, things were different, better and not like at present. This also invariably means that the person now finds more comfort and solace in his past rather than his present.

This may not necessarily mean that this senior person has lived the past in a far better position or in happier circumstances than present. The reasons for him to be more comfortable in his past are actually quite different. The first and foremost reason, according to me, is that this senior is now scared of the present. He finds it tough to bear or adjust to, the speed of life today and finds the unbending inclination of the young generation towards more and more consumerism rather unacceptable. With this kind of frame of mind, he finds that going back to past, where everything moved slower and was much more familiar is far more soothing and comforting.

The second major reason for this feeling is that each and every senior has some or other-minor or major-ailments that he has acquired over the years with his advancing age. Diseases like High blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes or arthritis are very common at his age and affect him physically as well as psychologically. With the ailments, the physical and mental capacity and efficiency of the person starts falling back and he finds it tough to cope up with speed and environment of the modern life. Once a person get a feeling that he is unable to cope up with the time and he is falling back in the race for life, he finds it more comfortable to go back to his personal cocoon and start thinking only about the past, which he make believes as the most wonderful time of his life.

There is one more reason, that creates a depressive disability in seniors is their comparatively poor or inferior financial situation. Even with the best of planning done at young age, almost every senior from all over the world, except perhaps very rich and the top bureaucrats cushioned by their pensions and invisible perks, finds himself in financially tight situations because of the killing rate of inflation. This problem is much worst in developing countries like India. The seniors, who immediately after retirement, were high net worth individuals, find after one or two decades of retirement, the necessity to be watchful and spend every Rupee or Dollar rather carefully.

Seniors living in developing countries like India, have their own special set of problems. In Indian cities, the public transport systems have almost collapsed with great burden of increase in city populations. Seniors find it almost impossible to make any journeys through these public transport vehicles. Most of the seniors are unable to buy a new car because of limited income and inflating costs of vehicles as well as fuel. Some of them retain and maintain their old vehicles, but find it tough to drive it because of heavy overcrowding on the roads. With “for hire” vehicles like Taxis,' already beyond their means, most of the seniors prefer to stay at home or at the most venture out to places around their homes which are within walking distance.

Unfortunately, there is no real solution to these hardships and difficulties faced by the seniors. They are fully aware of this and find that dreaming about the past is the only solace for them. The question is that under these compelling circumstances, how the seniors are going to improve their quality of life? The quality of life is not going to improve certainly by dreaming about the past and criticizing younger generations and I feel therefore that it is quite futile to indulge in such mind games.

There is a saying that an empty mind is devil's workshop. This saying is perhaps very apt for the seniors and that is why seniors should never keep their mind as well as each and every day vacant or empty. The first rule is that the seniors must try to work with their own hands, all their daily chores without taking help from anyone. For women, cooking is an excellent occupation for seniority days. Many women give up cooking with advanced age. However those of them, who continue with cooking are busy throughout the day with some or other activity and their minds never have time to indulge in unnecessary or bitter thoughts and feelings. Men, who can not not cook, should try to develop other hobbies , which do not require travelling or are not very expensive. I recently met a on old friend of mine, who had become a widower recently. I wondered about how he could possibly be spending his time alone. On one of the days, he showed me some wood carvings done by him. He had absorbed a huge personal loss just on the strength of this hobby of wood carving. Another senior friend of mine has taken up an assignment voluntarily, to visit nearby hospitals and help and console relatives of patients newly admitted into hospitals, who are still confused and bewildered with the functioning of the hospitals. Another friend of mine, who has and still drives a two wheeler, visits municipal and Government offices to carry out small tasks for his neighbours, who find no time for such visits. Many such hobbies and voluntary occupations are feasible and possible.

Such seniors, who are busy and working, are liked by others including younger generations. Their life is no longer just subtractions but also additions that sum up.

19 December 2012


  1. Well written. Appreciate Shekhar ji,

    They who lived their inclined path successfully know how to face the known declined path happily. Young generation should take pride of their footprints in close as it’s our path to begin marching tomorrow. Such approach will definitely sum up values and even keep a carry to add in to scenario of next generation.