It was just a random thought while I visited the holy place of Vrindavan a few years back. I was 16 then. The plight of the aged widows in the government supported old-age haven was beyond words. Although I am from a nuclear family, I have always found my parents caring for the elderly among our kith and kin. No matter how much resentful I may have been with my parents, I could never imagine abandoning them, and my rose-tinted view of life assumed that seldom do people abandon their parents in some old-age home and even if they do, they would take good care (No, “Lage raho Munna Bhai” had not been released yet).
But, shattering all my delusions, this incident managed to hit the core of my soul. I saw a mother (looked 80, but could be younger) weeping in despair sitting beside another, who I thought was asleep. Empathy overtook me and I asked her the reason of her sorrow with an intention to help, she did not get me and rather gestured me assertively to leave with blazing rage in her eyes, holding her ‘asleep’ friend even more tightly. A person beside me told me this was routine here, that the lady I thought asleep had indeed assumed slumber for all eternity, and that the weeping lady cried because the garbage men would come and take her friend’s body, cut it into pieces and feed them to the animals. While he was saying all this to me, succumbing to it’s habit, my mind began to form vivid images of the gore body parts. Those generic images along with the strike of reality were enough to tremble me. I couldn’t believe my ears, anyhow I gathered myself and asked the person what about the children of such deserted mothers, and all he could say was that I need not worry, these mothers have achieved moksha (salvation) by dying at this holy place, and he left. Frankly, that was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard until then, anyways, I did not share this experience with my parents or anybody yet. Throughout the rest of the trip I remained largely silent, my mom bugged me few times about my silence, and like always, my dour instincts took over me and I shouted to “leave me alone”. The next moment was one of the most important moments of my life. Throughout my silence I was wondering about the awfulness of those people who abandon their parents like that, but then it hit me, maybe they too wanted their parents to “leave them alone”, like me. It occurred to me that I am no different, maybe this resent grows into something that awful, my guilt conscious arose and shame was all that was on my face. Since I am quite an introvert, I did not share this shame too with my parents, didn’t even say ‘sorry’. But, deep down, this teen had learnt a lesson today.
That night, at the hotel we stayed, I looked at the sleeping face of my mom, beaming in the moon light. And whispered a “sorry mom”. All the instances of my misbehaves with her crossed my mind, I realized each of her lame questions carry unfathomable, unconditional love. I always knew I was a lucky kid when I used to see the child-beggars on the roads, but that moment I realized it. Yes, tears rolled on my cheeks and I was tremendously guilty of my behavior. That day, I resolved to control my resent towards the love of my mom (I haven’t been completely successful yet).
I would like to add one more thing. Most of the people who abandon their parents like that in the name of moksha are among us, well-educated, pro-modern people. They exploit the orthodox beliefs of their mothers to so-called ‘enjoy life’. If you are among them, I would request with folded hands to at least keep a track of her whereabouts and arrange a respectable cremation in the event of her death. Remember, among the body parts which are fed to the animals, is a part where you resided once. That was your first home, that home nourished you and enabled you to enjoy the world. Yes, I am talking about your mother’s womb. That was your first home, not the flat you bought down town or the bungalow you built out of your fortunes. Respect that fact at least if you cannot sensitize enough.
Love your moms & dads whether or not you live with them, and if your wife refuses to sleep with you if you love them, frankly, she doesn’t love you.