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Visit to the Old Age Home
Last Saturday, we were taken to an old age home near Kalyan. For me, it was a new experience, and I looked forward to it.
We were allowed to go inside the dormitories and talk to the grandmothers and grandfathers. As I entered the room, I saw on my left a lady, indicating me to sit beside her. I went and I sat there, listening to what she had to say. I realised, that these people have no one to talk to, no one to share their thoughts, or feelings with. So whenever they get a chance, a patient listener, a visitor, they most willingly pour their soul out. I was trying hard not to lead the conversation anywhere relating to her past, but she had already begun telling me about how she came there:

Her son was requesting her not to go away, but she herself insisted on leaving the house. She went to Nasik, Thane, Panvel and other places in Navi Mumbai in search of an old age home, but all of them were full. Finally she found the place she currently stays at, and had been living there for five years then.

She said that there was no use sitting alone –mentally, though not physically- in the house of her sons, with no one to talk to, or no one to care for her. Her daughter-in-law used to threaten her, bang her head against the wall and humiliate her. Helpless and frustrated, she came to the old age home.

The only time she now saw her son is when he seldom came to visit. Her married daughter did not visit her even once.

It was enraging to know how children could abandon their parents, because of whom they became what they are. The lady said it was fine in the old age home, but the tone of her voice conveyed something else.

I was so engrossed in conversation with her, that all the time we had been allotted to interact with old people went in talking to her. As I was leaving, she kissed me on the forehead, and told me to come again. She would be waiting.
After lunch, we went to the girls' hostel. I saw that in the common area, there was a nice chart, a time table which the children followed, of things to do each hour, each day. I, being in the ninth standard, have still not made a proper time table and so, I found this ironic.

They were all little girls there, the older ones being in the school that day. We sang, we danced and we even sang ring-a-ring-of-roses. Entering teenage, we often forget the simplicity of childhood. That day, I relived it.
I felt a little hand tugging on my own hand. I looked down to find this girl, whose name unfortunately I do not recollect, asking me to play with her. And so I did. I asked her how she liked it with her friends here. She said it was good, and began telling me about her school, her room, her favourite food, Chhota Bheem and movies. She led me to their dormitory, their dining hall and all over the building. To my surprise, it was she who voluntarily gave out information without my asking her anything about her family:

Where she lived, she did not remember. Who her father was, she did not remember. Her father used to come home, and beat her mother who strived hard to earn one square meal for the family. Finally, annoyed with the intolerable treatment, her mother took her and fled from the house. She left her in the orphanage, and she never came back.

At that time, I saw, that despite all this, the little girl was still cheerful, and was running ahead of me and urging me to meet her best friend. When it was time to leave, neither did they want us to go, nor did we want to leave. But I made sure, that I would include them in my prayers, and always remember them. The smiles I saw on the faces of people after I met them gave me immense joy on knowing that I made someone's day.

All the children seemed so happy, so loving, trying to lead a normal life, unaware of any problem that might come, or anything that could make them sad. Whenever we have a little problem in life, we become sad. Whenever we don't get something, we become depressed. Whenever someone doesn't understand us, we fight.

But those who are denied by fate the basic care, the necessary love, live a carefree life in their own innocent way. Meeting both, the grandparents at the old age home and the children, I realised that if you have your parents, you need nothing else. When they hold your hand, you feel secure. When you have parents, they care for you, buy new clothes for you, take you to places. When you have parents, you need nothing else. They complete your world. After my visit, I realised just how privileged I really am.

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