PACK LIGHT FOR THIS GUILT TRIP

“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 (Patna) - Live - - Timeout - sonal.kalra@hin­dus­tan­times.com or face­book.com/ son­al­kalraof­fi­cial. Fol­low on Twit­ter @son­al­kalra. SONAL KALRA

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 age­ing to­wards ill-health by the day.

I’ll tell you why I’m 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 fast­paced metro over be­ing with his re­tired par­ents who live in a smaller town. My first im­pulse was to feel sym­pa­thy be­cause he’s an only child, and there­fore, 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 allper­va­sive.

You could be one among the many chil­dren, a son or a daugh­ter, or you could be liv­ing with or away from them – at some point in life, the guilt of not do­ing enough for par­ents is 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 ev­ery day promis­ing to my­self that I will spend time talk­ing to my dad. But he’s turned cranky 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 cit­i­zen’s home. Our value sys­tem, on the other hand, al­lows for a much deeper emo­tional bond, and most of us place the com­fort of par­ents be­fore our own. De­spite this, the stress of not be­ing 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 friends who keep crib­bing about the guilt of not do­ing enough for their par­ents.

The an­swers turned out to be quite sim­ple, as I re­alised that most par­ents think quite op­po­site of how we think they think. Con­fused? Here are a few nuggets of wis­dom I got from peo­ple who made us...lit­er­ally and in ev­ery other sense. Quot­ing them as is…unedited! This was so much fun. 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 for 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 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. Ev­ery day 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. Aaj kal par­ents in­ter­fere na 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 drame­baaz! Sonal Kalra is plan­ning to take some time off to do a check on the old-age homes in the city. For her­self. Mail her your thoughts at

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