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Posted at: Jul 12, 2017, 1:07 AM; last updated: Jul 12, 2017, 1:07 AM (IST)

Greed, materialism by dear ones to fore

Abandoning of old parents across social classes

Avneet Kaur

Jalandhar, July 11

Desperate want and material greed has changed the landscape of human relations in urban India. The stories of abandoned parents are an unhappy reminder of this.

Betrayed by their kith and kin, the act has devastating effects on the emotions of the abandoned parents. Depressing yet true, recent trends show that old parents become an eyesore for some children.

Apahaj Ashram, a home for the destitute here, gets 10 such cases on an average in a month. While a total of 150 inmates, including men and women, currently live here, of them, 120 are those who have either been left by their sons or daughters-in-law.

Almost all inmates residing here do not want to return home anymore, believing that their children only want their bodies, which are a ticket to their property and money.

The maltreatment of parents is not restricted to a certain social class – across the middle, lower-middle classes or the elite. The abandonment of the elderly — rendered dependent or incapable due to disease or age — runs as a common malaise in society.                                                                                                                                                                  

The same scenario can be observed at other destitute houses here — Pingla Ghar and Guru Nanak Anath Ashram. These too register about 10 to 15 such cases in a month.

“They used to be the apple of our eyes but today we are nothing for them,” said an inmate while sharing his thoughts with eyes filled with tears. Almost all inmates at these homes nod in agreement.

“I long to meet my children, but all they want is my money,” says a distraught, wheelchair-bound Anil Kumar (50) who was shockingly abandoned by his own wife. A businessman by profession, Kumar was left to fend for himself when he suffered a paralytic attack two years ago. “My wife had only thrown me out because I could not work. Since then, my children were the only reason I lived. And even though I yearn to go back home and spend my remaining years with my children, I know they don’t feel the same,” said the Ludhiana resident, who is still handicapped from waist down. Unfortunately, the abuse elders report is common across social classes and different places.

Septuagenarian Pushpa Devi from Moga was polio-stricken and visually impaired. The widowed-mother said she was a burden on her family. Not being able to do any work on her own, she was sent to the orphanage to spend her life alone.

Surprisingly, many abandoned parents do not want to say bad words about their children despite having been meted out inhuman treatment. Also, they do not want any legal action to be taken against them. Blaming their situation to be “an act of their own deeds”, they curse their life, but not their children.

Kamla Devi Sharma, a 90-year-old widow from Goraya, has a son, a daughter-in-law and a grandchild, but hasn’t seen or heard from any of them for the past 11 years. “They have their own life, friends and social circle. I was the odd one out. It’s good I landed here,” she says. Her son is well-settled abroad, own lands and property in Goraya. Chairman, Apahaj Ashram, Tarsem Kapoor, talking about stories of these abandoned parents, said, “Some children feel that their elderly parents are a financial burden, while some abandon them when they are ill, most are just too busy to care for them. 

Even some parents who live here receive monthly pensions. Their children or relatives come here to take their pensions, but are least bothered to take them.” Love, care and support in the twilight of their lives is all they crave for, he said.

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