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Old Age Redundancy

Redundancy. This word has generally been used to describe my writing, my statements, my work and sometimes even my life. Just kidding, it’s not that bad, yet. Anyways the dictionary meaning of redundancy is “the state of being redundant”. And the dictionary meaning of redundant is “being in excess; exceeding what is usual or natural”. But it is in widespread use to describe things that no longer serve any purpose to people. Now I will digress a little. There are many things that people fear. Some of them are very basic and physical or tangible like the fear of heights, the fear of spiders or even the fear of spiders. But there are some fears which are more deep seated in our minds, which do not directly impact our actions but which guide our principles and actions. We sometimes call them insecurities. 

Why this little explanation about fear? I have a very good reason for it, of course. One of the greatest insecurities that people suffer from is the fear of becoming redundant, of being of no use to anyone, of being replaced by a superior being. I am going to assume, the very few of you who are reading this are all the same age as me, and are indifferent to such a concept. But if you ARE blessed enough to have your grand-parents still alive go ask them. And their answers will move your soul in ways you cannot imagine by reading this. Of course, some of the elderly might, in order to protect you or themselves, tell you that they are not bothered by such things but the truth really is that they are some of braver ones who have made peace with the fact. You may not have thought about it till now, but I promise you the day it hits you, you’ll be shit scared. 

I’ll tell you how your world would be if you became redundant. Anything that you could do would be done in a much better way by someone else. Whenever you want to be a part of something, you’d have the door shut in your face because there would always be vastly superior people. You’ll want to be a part of other people’s lives but you’ll realize soon enough that no one really has the time to spare for you. There will be no meaningful way for you to contribute to the world. No one will give a damn whether you live or die. Actually I’m wrong, people will be concerned that you still live and waste the precious little amount of oxygen we have left. You’ll feel miserable and no one would even console you. Not because they don’t want to, but because there’s nothing honest they could say to make you feel better. And as time goes on, you’ll find that whatever little you were useful for is disappearing by the second, that your bones are rotting and mind decaying. Sad, alone, crushed you’ll be put away in some corner waiting, nah, begging for your death. Begging for an end to your misery, and it too will taunt you and make you wait till everything in your life is destroyed. 

Photo credit - Swagat Yadav
This is what thousands of elderly in our country suffer every day. Thousands and lakhs of people of the same age as your grand-parents, are forced to seek shelter in old age homes because brilliant people like me and you, who think we know it all, have made them feel redundant. We treat them as misfits in a young country, making path breaking progress every day. We drive them to a mental state where either they have no self-esteem left or either they choose to leave the homes that they built in order to preserve their self-respect. And if you think I’m writing crap, just Google the no. of old age homes in India and, more than that, the rate at which they are sprouting up. Lage Raho Munnabhai isn’t really based on fiction. 

Okay so you come from a more traditional background, your grandparents still stay in your house. You meet them once or twice in a day, say hello and then go sit in front of the idiot box, or your computer or start chatting utterly useless shit with your friends. You have nothing in common with them. Well, you ungrateful prick, do you even know what their interests are or were? They are not just old people who you take care of because they took care of your parents, they are people who have lived a full life and seen things that you will never have the vision or heart to do because you can’t seem to think beyond yourself. Would it kill you if you didn’t go out one day to ogle chicks and called your friends over and sat with your grandparents? It’s not as if they’re really boring or anything, they are more than willing to tell the most amazing of stories of the past. Stories which will have you actually have you ROFL. And if you fucking say that it’s not cool, I‘ll light a firecracker up your ass. 

Photo credit - Swagat Yadav
And it’s not just about your or mine grandparents. In general, the elderly are fine people to spend time with. They may not help you with all the exams you have to crack, and all the presentation you have to give but they can help and guide you to lead a more meaningful and satisfying life. They can show you the way TO attain that peaceful state which you find so elusive. They teach you the meaning of values and responsibility in ways books and lectures never can. The kind of bonding they had with their siblings is not something you will ever be able to achieve. You think you ARE very hard, that you have achieved much more professionally, that you can feed your family better. Talk to them and you’ll understand how narrow a definition of family you have. They are the only ones who can make you realize that “blood is thicker than water”. Everything is not about how much you earn or how many Facebook friends you have. 

It’s not as if they ask for too much from us. No one really expects you to hold their hands and help them cross the roads anymore. All they want is you treat them with a little dignity and respect and regard that they did achieve something in life. All they want is for you to be sensitive to their health and other problems. All they want is that you respect the values and ideals with which they lived. All they want is for you to not regard their slow moving wheelchairs as inconvenience. And honestly, the problem is deeper here in India than abroad, where they don’t use culture and values as a blanket to cover all the other problems. Ironical, isn’t it. 

I am not going to assume that my writing will have too much of an impact on you. None of you is going to an old age home this weekend. But at least, pick up your phone, call your grandparents and let them know they still mean something to you. 

This is in tribute to my late grandfather, who taught me a lot of things including caring about other people. If you’re reading this Dada, I wish I had spent more time with you. 



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