Jammu witnessed lot of activity during the just-ended Pitra Paksh, with affluent and poor, both, remembering departed elders and seeking solace for their souls. In their own ways, people observed hawans, distributed eatables among needy to seek eternal peace for their ‘dear’ departed ones, floated paid advertisements to offer homage and tributes and many affluent visited the Vridh Ashram with delicacies for those ‘unfortunate’ ones, abandoned in their life-time by their very own sons and daughters. At an age when they need care and compassion, they are thrown out like disposables, which remain of no use at some point of time.
Vridh Ashram is a living reminder of human apathy, callousness and more importantly, hypocrisy. The people organize langers and observe rituals during the mourning period over every death but care least when they are actually living. Old-age homes are the symbols of today’s consumerism when things are taken in a ‘use and throw’ fashion. A society that used to take pride in its traditions is fast transforming in a ‘give and take’ set up. Once the parents become redundant due to advanced age, they are treated as a liability rather than treasure, which needs to be guarded zealously. Putting them into Vridh Ashrams was never an option. They used to get feeling of being indispensible and not a burden. But times have change. Those being maltreated in homes are given decent funerals to build image in the society. But some are not even tolerated for maltreatment, who ultimately find rehabilitation places in Vridh Ashrams.
What an irony that at an age when a person reaches critical stage of his or her life where he or she faces problems socially, physically, mentally and even economically, abandonment becomes his or her fate. Those who give their glorious years of love to their children get indifference in return. Those who want to spend their last moments with their own are forced to live in the solitude with pain and agony. They may have all facilities and amenities in the Vridh Ashram but they will not get the love they need… the love that serves as medicine at fag end of life.
Why is it that everyone treats it as bliss to shoulder the dead but not lending a helping hand to living ones? Had it been other way round, how beautiful this world would have been. But it has not to be. The living example of this callous attitude is, unfortunately, flourishing Vridh Ashram at Amphala, in the backyards of STATE TIMES, which tells tales of human degradation. To bring these sordid tales to its readers, STATE TIMES is doing a series to show the society its real face in the mirror.