By Peer Mohammad Amir Qureshi
Amidst the corridors of my primary school days, a mesmerizing English tale I remembered — “The Mountain That Ate People,” an ancient Japanese folklore. This chronicle follows the journey of a proud young feudal lord, harboring a disdain for the elderly. He wielded a decree as merciless as it was haunting, directing those past sixty-one to a desolate mountain for their final sojourn a place of somber departure.Yet, as the sands of contemplation trickle through the hourglass of my thoughts, an alternative tableau beckons. Could we not superimpose this narrative onto the canvas of Kashmir?
Here, the very title retains its essence, while the protagonists shift to the sons of the land. These contemporary scions, tragically detached, consign their forebears to the confines of old age homes, where life’s curtain descends in solitude.Kashmir, known for its close-knit families, a somber reality has emerged. The challenging conditions have led to a distressing situation where some individuals, once bound by unbreakable bonds, are now finding themselves separated from their aging parents. It’s a poignant issue that highlights the need for attention and support.Does the need for old age homes not cast a shadow of reflection in a land where muslims are in majority? The wisdom of the Quran is evident in its exhortation to respect and love for our elders, a principle that prominently includes our parents. Even as the years pile on top of our parents, its lines softly beg us to cradle them in compassion. The central message of Surah Al-Isra (17:23) is “Worship none other than Him, and be kind to your parents.” Never even say ‘uff’ to them or rebuff them; instead, speak to them with words of grace if they both or one of them reach old age during your lifetime.
As per an autonomous study conducted by Dr. Zubair Salim, a staggering 60% of senior individuals embark on their hospital journeys unaccompanied, while a mere 35 to 40% are joined by attendants, predominantly comprising daughters or unmarried sons. The disconcerting revelations underscore that a startling 75% of patients endure a myriad of abuses, shockingly often at the hands of their own sons post-marriage.
A recent encounter left me astounded: a frail elderly gentleman, bearing his granddaughter’s weight, quivered noticeably. The passage of sixty years had clearly dulled his once-vibrant nervous system, while the highway adjacent pulsed with a torrent of traffic resembling a deluge. I inquired about his presence in the marketplace, and his response resonated deeply within me. With a voice both weathered and poignant, he explained that his actions stemmed from necessity. “We, the elderly,” he mused, “find ourselves not just guardians of our grandchildren, but guardians of sustenance. To relinquish this role is to court hunger for ourselves, and the risk of becoming irrelevant in our children’s eyes.”In the graceful theater of life, your treatment of parents weaves a tale uniquely yours. Remember, the story you pen today will be retold by your children tomorrow – echoing the timeless wisdom of Mawlana Rumi. Just as dawn mirrors dusk, cherish your parents in their twilight years, for the narrative you sow shall echo in the harmonious verses of generations to come.Amidst this backdrop, the government has initiated plans to establish old age homes across every district. Yet, this development carries a poignant irony, especially for a region known for its Muslim majority.
The inception of such facilities is accompanied by potential pitfalls that must not be overlooked. Among these shadows loom the specters of neglect and abuse at the hands of caregivers, an insufficiency of medical care tailored to the aged, the pernicious grip of social isolation, a dearth of intellectual and physical stimulation, the precarious mishandling of medications, and a vulnerability laid bare by an unprepared emergency response.It becomes an imperative, therefore, for these havens of twilight to be adorned with the armor of stringent regulations and meticulous surveillance, ensuring that the sanctity, security, and holistic welfare of the esteemed residents remain unwaveringly safeguarded.
The author is a columnist based in Ganderbal .He tweets @peermohdamir and can be reached at [email protected]
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