Place: Mamatha Old Age Home, Opp Homeopathic College. Ramanthapur, Hyderabad.
Date: 11th Oct 2008.Time: 11:20 a.m.
I along with my Habsiguda babai (Uncle) Subramanyam walked towards the Amberpet road from our home. He got a bicycle today instead of his usual Bajaj blue chetak 89 model. He came to see us around 10 a.m. and while leaving around 11 a.m. I asked him what his plan for the day. He shared that from here he is dropping for some time at an old age home which is located in Ramanthapur .
I always had a wish to visit this place and got ready immediately. I told dad that I will be back after sometime and walked along with Babai.
An introduction to my Babai: he is an ardent follower of Puttaparthi Sai Baba. He believes and lives by example that Seva to Human beings is seva to Lord/ God and is the way towards reaching the Salvation( Mukthi). From childhood, I remember him he wearing only white Kurta and Pyjamma. May be his dress is a reflection of his thoughts and a clear loving heart he has. Since I am accompanying he preferred to walk by holding with one hand his Hero cycle. By its look I think even this is 89 model.We crossed few small lanes before we reached the main road. While walking he was sharing his experience how happy the old women would be by seeing him. I understood that he visits this place twice a week and spends an hour each time. He greets them and shares spiritual content. There was a gap to his visit due to his family commitments and hence he was excited to see them again after a gap of three weeks.
Though the old age home is the dead end in that colony it’s not an end to old women smiles
After walking a kilometer and a half from our home we reached the building. This building is left side to the main road and is the dead end in that colony. The building main gate has a small name plate which read as Mamatha Old age Home. The name plate and the color of the paint indicated that the name plate was written long back. With great difficulty I could able to make out.
My babai parked his cycle to the left side of the gate.Near the door there was a physically challenged old person of age around 65 sitting on a bench. He wished my babai and folded his hands to say Namaste with his weak hands. He was very thin and looking weak. Babai greeted him and asked me to follow. I just followed him like a soldier who will take orders from an Army General. When we entered the home, the first room was little dark with very less lighting I could hardly figure out any thing in that room. The tiles were very clean and I sensed that the floor was cleaned just a few minutes ago as it has water marks and is still wet. The room was cleaned with phenoyl I believe as the pungent smell indicated so.There were two women lying on the iron cots. By seeing us they said Namaste. They had blankets on their body covered till their faces from legs. Babai was greeting each and every one coming across to us. We entered another room. Here the lighting was good. I could notice clearly the faces of old women. One old woman was taking medicine and holding a glass in her hand. Her hands were shaking. The other woman was lying in bed and her face suggested that she is suffering from pain. May be she is ill. When babai greeted them they responded back and were looking at me. I guess they were thinking about me who this stranger is? I wished them Namaste and followed my babai and entered in another room. There were three beds in that room. On our right side there was a bed beside a portable color television. I noticed Etv program which is on with a very low volume. An old women might be around 90 years was sitting on this bed. She is very thin with wrinkles indicating her old age. She was wearing thick glass spectacles. Babai introduced her to me as retired school teacher. She looked very active at her age. She had vibuthi on her face and was reading some spiritual book when we entered. On her bed there was a blue suitcase near the pillow. I felt that may be she has few valuable things in that which have old memories related to them. The suitcase is the only thing which she is left with in her entire life. She had a smiling face and enquired babai about him not visiting them from long and the reasons.
It doesn’t matter who you are to greet some body. With smile you can win hearts”
I dragged a white plastic chair and sat. babai pulled up a small stool and sat beside the old lady. She asked few questions related to spirituality. She talked very slowly. One of them being how to recognize Mahatmas. Babai and old lady exchanged their views. She quoted one Sanskrit sloka while sharing her point of view. I was astonished by her memory when she quoted the exact chapter and sloka from Gita. Mean while few old women gathered and sat in other beds and some standing and few peeping from the windows. The old lady asked babai to introduce me. He introduced me to all the old women there. I could see in their eyes happiness by seeing babai and self as if their son or relative came to see them after a long time. One of the old lady slowly walked towards me. She was wearing a white saree. Her eyes were filled with tears.I thought may be she wants to go to another room and dragged my chair towards the television to give her way but she came and stopped at my chair and looked in to my eyes. I stood up. She slowly took Jammi leaves (called as bangaram which is exchanged at Dusshera in Telengana region) from her kerchief which she tied carefully. She gave those leaves to me and walked slowly without even saying a word. I was shocked and touched by this gesture. I didn’t know how to respond to this. I am not a relative to her and the way she came and gave those leaves and greeted dassera wishes with her eyes alone made me think and I felt very happy. After reaching the door she dragged a wooden stool and sat beside babai.
Relationships bring happiness and not the Physical facilities. The irony is most of our time in life we run for physical facilities without focusing on relationships
Few old women asked babai to sing bajans. Babai sung 4 bhagans for few minutes. We all gave chorus. The old women who gave me bangaram walked in her room in between the bhajans. I felt talking to her. Her eyes had so much to tell. I can see tears in her eyes which are ready to come from her eyes like water ready to gush from a dam. After bhajans we had discussion on few topics related to Vedanta. The old women were so curious to know and were listening actively. Babai shared his experiences and we had a great Satsang. After that we informed them that we would take leave. Few of the old women accompanied us and came till the door and it was with heavy heart we said bye to them.
Mathru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava
Every person in that old age home has stories to share, their life challenges, successes and pains. Each one there is a wealth of information, encyclopedias of life’s struggles who have seen and experienced both good and bad in life. They just expect a smile, respect and attachment from the world and not sympathy.
I end this with an Indian saying “Mathru devo bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava” (Mother is God, Father is God). Let there be peace in this world.
My experience at Old age home – By S V Lakshmikanth (Kanth108@yahoo.com)
The writer is born in Hyderabad and is educated in Kurnool and Hyderabad. He has lived in many parts of Andhra Pradesh owing to his Father’s frequent transfers. He has the fortune to visit many historical places in India. In this article, he attempts to share the importance of relationships and his experience during a visit of an old age home. The objective of this article is not to generate any sympathy, but to generate empathy towards old age persons. He thanks and acknowledges his cousin Jyostna Vadakapurapu whose thoughts and support have been instrumental in writing and to pursue his interests like sketching and creative writing. By profession, he is a Learning consultant, trainer and coach with Satyam Learning World, Satyam Computers.
Image by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanyuktaa/