ARE YOU, TOO, SUF­FER­ING FROM THE ‘PAR­ENTS GUILT’?

You spend years wish­ing your par­ents would get off your back, only to re­alise they’re the only ones who ever re­ally had your back —Anony­mous

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - City - - ENTERTAINMENT - SONAL KALRA Sonal Kalra is plan­ning to take some time off and do a check on the old-age homes in the city. For her­self. Mail her at sonal.kalra@hin­dus­tan­times.com, face­book.com/son­al­kalraof­fi­cial. Fol­low on Twit­ter @ son­al­kalra On read­ers’ re­quest, this

Of the neg­a­tive emo­tions that rob us of calm­ness from time to time, ‘guilt’ would rank quite up there. The feel­ing of hav­ing wronged some­one can sap in­ner strength and con­fi­dence rather badly, and it’s only worse if that some­one hap­pens to be a par­ent who is ag­ing to­wards ill-health, by the day. I’d tell you why I’m sud­denly talk­ing about this se­ri­ous, yet per­ti­nent stress this week. It started with a friend’s Face­book post. He mulled over the guilt of pur­su­ing a ca­reer in a fast-paced metro over be­ing with his re­tired par­ents who live in a smaller town. My first im­pulse was to feel sym­pa­thy at him be­ing the only child to his ag­ing par­ents, and hence the only one re­spon­si­ble for tak­ing care of them.

But, one look at how peo­ple re­lated with his post and I re­alised that this stress is all-per­va­sive. You could be one among the many chil­dren, you could be a son or a daugh­ter, you could be liv­ing with or away from them — at some point in life, the guilt of not do­ing enough for par­ents is still bound to strike. To a child while grow­ing up, par­ents rep­re­sent all that strength stands for. They mostly are the he­roes of your child­hood jour­ney. The first re­al­i­sa­tion that age has caught up with the same two peo­ple to turn them frail and weak is quite a jolt. Adding to the de­clin­ing health mostly is the in­creased gap be­tween their thought pat­tern and yours.

“I start ev­ery­day promis­ing to my­self that I will spend time talk­ing to my dad. But he has turned cranky and ir­ri­ta­ble be­cause of his health prob­lems. He’s for­ever crit­i­cal of the way I’m liv­ing my life. We al­ways end up ar­gu­ing, and my guilt the next day is even worse,” says a col­league. Hmm. Toh kya karein?

Fi­rangs have a fancy name for this con­di­tion — care­giver’s stress. But their stress is mostly about whether or not to have their aged par­ents ad­mit­ted to a nurs­ing home or a se­nior cit­i­zens’ home. Thank­fully, our value sys­tem al­lows for a much deeper emo­tional bond, and most of us would place the com­fort of par­ents be­fore our own. De­spite this, the stress of not quite be­ing there with them doesn’t go. Now frankly, be­ing a guilty party my­self, I didn’t quite have a grip on this calm­ness trick.

So I de­cided to ask, well, the aged par­ents of some of those friends who keep crib­bing about this guilt of not do­ing enough for their par­ents. Their an­swers turned out to be quite sim­ple, as I re­alised that most par­ents think quite op­po­site to how we think they think. Con­fused? Here are a few nuggets of wis­dom I got from peo­ple who made us. Quot­ing them as is… unedited! This was so much fun.

Sur­pris­ingly, many par­ents think quite op­po­site to how we think they think:

1 “Why should my son feel guilty about my bad health? Get­ting old is a nat­u­ral process. He did not cause it.”

2 “Itna guilty feel karne ki ja­gah aadha ghanta mere saath roz baat karle toh life would be much bet­ter for her, and me.”

3 “Does he re­ally feel bad about not liv­ing with me? Tell him I’m hap­pier this way. Uski biwi ko kaun bar­daasht karega roz?”

4 “Rather than wast­ing time on think­ing about my health, she should take care of her own health. Bad eat­ing habits and work pres­sure all the time. Her kids will have a much worse time when she grows old!”

5 “I have my own life here. I go to the club every evening.”

6 “He keeps telling us to come and live with him. But we hate Delhi be­cause of the pol­lu­tion. It’s not his fault, why should he feel bad?”

7 “I tried liv­ing with her. Ev­ery­day we would get into some ar­gu­ment. She thinks my age has made me lose my mind.”

8 “Tell him to find a part­ner and get set­tled. We have enough sav­ings to take care of our­selves. We are not de­pen­dant.”

9 “She has her own fam­ily to take care of. Aa­jkal par­ents in­ter­fere nah hi karein toh achha. I don’t want my ev­ery­day prob­lems to dis­turb her fam­ily life.”

10 “Us se zyada toh uske bachchey pyaar se bolte hain mujh se.”

11 “This town has no ca­reer growth for him. Bom­bay mein he can do much bet­ter. He will feel frus­trated if he set­tles here. Haan, he must visit every 2-3 months. Abhi toh woh bhi nahi karta.”

12 “Mu­jhe toh uski health ki zyada chinta hai. Kabhi khaana time se nahi khaata. If I see him happy and healthy, half of my health prob­lems will be gone.”

13 “Abhi toh haath paon chal ra­hein hain. Jab bed rid­den ho jaaoongi tab le jaaye.”

14 “Why should I go and stay with him? Mere friends ya­han hain.”

15 “I don’t need him to live here and make my free­dom mis­er­able. Skype pe hi sar khaa jaata hai.”

16 “He re­ally told you that? Tell him I love him.”

17 “Itni par­wah hai usko? Ask him to en­joy life yaar. Abhi uski age hai. Have fun.”

18 “He never told me he feels any guilt about me. In fact he hasn’t called in the last 7 days.”

19 “Humne toh ab jaana hi hai. We are count­ing days. If we see them happy, it will make it eas­ier for us to pass th­ese days. Tell him to just stay happy, jahan bhi rahe. We don’t want any­thing else.”

20 Guilty? Nalayak dram­abaaz!

PHOTO: IM­AGES BAZAAR

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