Last weekend I visited an old folks home to visit a friend’s mother. The place is in a beautiful area and the drive was very pleasant. As we drove in to the car park, the first thing I noticed was the Ambulance, which wasn’t surprising, after all, most residents there would have some sort of medical issues. Then I noticed the well tended garden. There were so many different types of flowers. Such a nice place, I thought.
I stood outside an electronic gate that is as tall as me and waited for my friend to punch in the code. There was a very pleasant elderly man waiting on the other side of the gate and when he saw me, an unfamiliar face, he told me “Don’t worry about the gate, I will handle that”. My friend closed the gate quickly and ignored the old man. That was rude, I thought feeling pretty annoyed with my friend and he must have seen my face and he told me “That is Andrew ( not his real name), he has ran away from this place so many times and is waiting for another chance, that is why he wants to handle the gate”
I felt I was visiting a jail. I noticed a nurse coming and talking to Andrew and holding his hand and walking inside.
The hallway had lots of paintings and there were bouquets of flowers every where. The staff had big smiles and each of them said Hi to me. I could hear TV from the hallway. I entered the ‘living room’..I think the word is a misnomer..what I saw was three people sitting in front of the TV and sleeping. One was standing next to the sleeping ones, wearing a funny hat and was pretending to dance with an imaginary person. My friend’s mother was sitting at the dining table with a book in front of her and was nodding off. My friend greeted his mother. she looked at him for a second and went back to the book that she was reading. 5 seconds later she was nodding off. My friend went on talking to his mother. He told her about all that is happening in his life..she just went on sleeping.
I heard one staff asking another if she checked on Alice ( not her real name) as Alice tried to run away again that morning.
I grew up hearing the usual dialogues Mallus are known to say . It starts with pathu masam chumannu, theettam kori, kashu chilavakki padippichu..it all lead to one single word Kadama( responsibility/duty).
The thing is, every mother does that.. taking care of children..I did too..carried my children for the duration of gestation, went through the labour pain, washed their butt, fed them, clothed them and educated them..but I feel it is totally unfair to expect my children to take care of me in my old age.
I also can’t imagine being locked up in a place where the only way I would get to leave is in a wooden box.
I want to be able to die when I can no longer take care of me. I think I will drive off the cliff when that day comes..