By BHAVNA MANSUKHLAL
Aged parents can be appeased with material things, but what they really want is to feel needed.
MY mother’s last rites were completed today. Friends and relatives made their presence felt. As I look at my mother’s photograph in the hall, I feel as if the picture is talking to me. Asking me questions that I hadn’t answered. I can not comprehend the strange silence within me as I try to stop a flood of good, old memories.
Something strange is happening to me today. What is it, I question myself. When my mum was alive I never felt the emptiness I feel now when she is not with me. When I was young, I kept running around her and pulling her clothes for attention.
I feel so restless now; something is bothering my mind.
I have never spoken in a sharp tone to my mother nor have I deprived her of money or anything that she needed, but deep down I feel my mum needed something else from me.
Slowly, I go to her room and gently open the door. Strangely, mum is there; I can see her prayer things on the altar. The smell of incense permeates the air. The ringing of the bell and the chanting of prayers woke me up in the morning for almost 50 years. Now there is total silence.
For the first time, I see the tulsi plant in her balcony. Lush with leaves. As I look around, feeling her presence in every part of the room, I see an open diary lying on the table. My mother’s diary. I walk towards it, thinking maybe she would have written her last wishes in her diary.
I take it in my hands, smell it and gently turn the pages.
She had a story to tell ...
She wrote: “I asked Rajesh to get a diary for me.” Her words ring in my ear as I had asked her, “Mum, at this age why do you need a diary?” when she told me what she had requested from my son.
I read further; She said “I have many thoughts running through my mind and I want to write them down.”
That evening, I bought the diary and told my son to give it to mum. It never occurred to me to find out what she had to say. My only concern was to get her whatever she desired so she would not nag me.
I continue reading ...
“To my beloved grandchild, Rahul.” I quickly turn to the next page.
“Rahul I love you very much. We all love you very much, especially your parents. And my child, don’t ever do anything that will hurt them.” Somehow, I find the courage to turn to the next page.
“Rahul, I hope that you grow up to be like your father. However, do not make the mistakes your father made. I know Rahul, that your father is a very good man.
He just forgot to do something that was important to me.
Rahul, after some time, a person experiences emptiness in her or his life. Parents do not even think for a second about their responsibilities of bringing up their children but as they grow old, a certain fear comes into their mind. Are they a burden to their children?
When your father was young, he would come back in the evening and lie on my lap for comfort. He would keep calling out my name for no apparent reason, and it always puts a smile on my face when I think of those times.
As I grew older, I guess I still wanted my son to call out my name from time to time. After all, in my eyes, he is still my little boy.
Rahul, if ever your mother or father have no one else to turn to, make sure you are there. Make sure you have time for them.
Go to their bedroom and talk to them. Look at old albums and talk about old times spent together. They will feel good and wanted.
Sometimes hug them as they hugged you when you were young. Call out your mother’s name just like you did when you were young.
Rahul, I remember when your father was still studying, there was a function at school. He insisted that I dress up well so everyone could see how beautiful I was. It was your father who adjusted my saree. The care and concern he showed made me feel on top of the world for days. Even till today, I smile when I think about that day.
Now things are different. He asks his wife to see if his mother needs anything.
Rahul, you might think I’m being petty. You will not understand all this now but as you grow old, you will understand my feelings.
God will always take care of you. Those who take care of their parents will always be taken care of. Your mother and father have always taken care of me. You too must take care of them and remember the things I have written to you.
My child, when someone grows old, their biggest enemy is loneliness. In their old age, make your parents feel wanted. Take extra care of them. Every day, make them feel their presence in the house. Each day say ‘mum’ or ‘ dad’ six or seven times because they love to hear that. Sometimes sleep on your mum’s lap so that she can still comfort you.
Now that you are a big boy, remember to always take care of my son.
That’s all Rahul. This is all I can write because I can’t stop my tears from flowing.”
I clutch the diary as hard as I can and call out to my mum but it is too late. I bite my lips as I can’t control my feelings. I realise that I could not give my mum what she wanted and all I have are regrets.
We fail to see beyond our busy lives. The lives of our parents – as we get busier by the day, making a good future for us and our children – are sidelined. Our parents, who have given us the baton to run further in the relay of life, are left in emptiness.
When all they want in their twilight years is to be needed.
p/s: later bila aku free, aku buat entry berkait.