World Elder Abuse Day: No life for the old?ANI | New Delhi | Updated: 14-06-2019 21:05 IST | Created: 14-06-2019 20:59 IST
By Himanshi Singh A small settlement with tiny rooms dominated by rat squeaks located a few miles away from the buzzing roads of the national capital is home to about a dozen old citizens, who have no place elsewhere.
These senior citizens live with their unheard stories of the physical and mental abuse, the torment that they once suffered at the hands of their own children. June 15, marks the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day that aims to raise awareness about adults falling prey to elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
According to 2016 data by the Ministry of Social Justice, the population above the age of 60 in our country forms a share of 9.30 per cent, and one out of four elderly faces abuse in India, according to 2018 data by HelpAge India. Meanwhile, this small establishment, Mann Ka Tilak, shelters those neglected and abandoned by their families. The rooms echo with the cries of the abuse they suffered at the hands of their own blood, their own children. From Delhi to Kolkata and Burma, many elderly have found their new home in this establishment.
A 90-year old frail yet cheerful woman, Champiya hides her agony behind her toothless smile. "As I fell ill once, my son put a shoe in my mouth and beat me so hard that now I find it difficult to hear from my right ear," she said. "A year ago my daughter told me that we were going out and left me here. I cried a lot that day," Champiya amma, as people at the old age home call her, added.
On asked if her children still talk to her, the old lady happily said, "I talk to my daughter over the phone about once in two months. She will soon come to meet me. She will take me to the bank to cash out my pension." Champiya amma says she has no contact with her son but even after all the pain, she still hopes to meet him someday.
Shravan amma, another inmate at the settlement says she was once asked by her son, "When will you die?" Daily thrashing became a part of the 57-year old's life and she made herself used to it until Shravan amma hired a lawyer who advised her to move out.
"I lived on rent, sometimes at random places, sometimes at my maternal home," Rukmani amma said fighting her tears back. Another elderly woman jumps in to share her story and said, "'Mai Jaa Rahi hun...,' I know that I say this a lot, but I know that my son will take me home."
"I have given birth to him, washed him, clothed him, fed him when even I didn't have food to eat. We didn't have a lot, but all I did was only for my children. See how he has repaid my love? He has left me here, " Rukmani amma continued. Her son promised her that he is leaving her here for a few days and will come to take her home soon.
"It has been more than a year and I haven't seen him. If you see him, will you tell him his amma is waiting to see her son one last time?" she said in a brittle voice. Divided into women and men's wing, the old age home brings together all its residents in the small lawn where they all exchange banter and repartees, attempting to forget the pain and move on.
While the accounts of elder abuse outnumbered the rest, there were some who came to the old-age home on their own will. One such was Bhagwant Singh who had a full-fledged transport business until his wife met with an accident and while his wife recuperated, his business saw a downfall.
"Now, my son just earns Rs. 21,000 a month. It would have been difficult for him to run his family and supply for us. So, I willingly came here." As he wipes his tears off, the 74-year-old added that his wife will soon join him at Mann Ka Tilak.
To spread awareness regarding elder abuse, the old age home has initiated an exceptional campaign urging people to click a picture with a white handkerchief. While uploading the picture they have to tag three of their friends to spread the word. Scores of such stories lie unheard somewhere in the jungles of the 21st century. Ours is a country known to be having the maximum youth population in the world, perhaps making us inconsiderate towards our veterans.
Is life fair to everyone? No. But this World Elder Abuse Day, try to ace your role in making a life, more liveable.