By Mohammed Amir Khan, DLCL B&F IC
During a photography assignment, I got a chance to visit a NGO named as “The Earth Saviors’ Foundation”. It works for the welfare of aged and less fortunate people. When I reached, for the first few minutes my mind was completely blank. All I could see was a lot of unfortunate people living in exile from the society. I was feeling uncomfortable when a very humble person came and explained to me that they don’t want our charity; all they want is our attention and love. He asked me to approach any person and make myself comfortable with them.
I saw an old man with worn face, wrinkles boring deeply into his skin, his expression full of frustration and fatigue. Annoyed, he was sitting at one corner. I could see the pain in his eyes. I decided to talk to him. He was a well-mannered and highly educated gentleman. It was an emotional conversation. I spoke to him for almost two hours. After introducing himself, he shared his story with me. “My Name is Kanney. I’m an 81 year old, Christian. Suffering from cancer, my wife died 5 years ago in 2010. I was a mechanical engineer in railways. After 35 years of long service I retired in 1995 at the age of 58. After that I settled in Delhi. I have two sons and a daughter. My elder son is a pilot in Air India and the younger one is a member of lower house in Information and Broadcast ministry. Due to two open heart surgeries, I am weak enough to do my own work. My children simply shrugged off their responsibilities and after my wife died, they brought me to this NGO. It is really a hard time for me and now I think death is a better option.” He continued his story with tears rolling down his cheeks. “It’s been a year now, no one from my family came to see me. Initially my younger son used to come but now even he doesn’t have time, i guess. They don’t even know if I’m alive or dead. I requested the administration to contact them but they denied stating the reason that they don’t have their contact number. I want to speak to my daughter. My sons took all my property by forging signature on papers, withdrew all my savings and closed my bank accounts. Now I have nothing left with me. Previously, I have lived a very lavish life. I got selected in Indian railways back in 1960, I used to be a lecturer and a trainer. But now the situation is bad. Here, I find the food and water is not hygienic. We don’t get to change clothes daily. I’ll get a fresh one only when this becomes dirty. Last monsoon when the old age home got flooded, army came to rescue us. I lost all my belongings, my clothes, phone, books. I don’t speak to anyone as most of them are mentally challenged. They abuse and fight badly and get wounded sometimes. Every night I sleep as if I’m not going to see the next morning, I’m old and weak, I can’t walk properly. Since 2-3 years I’m stuck to this bed. I am worried whether I’ll get proper burial at least or not. “ Further he said, “Son, I really feel pity for the coming generations. I hope that time won’t be so hard on you when you come to this age. Today, those who are being taken care of by their children are fortunate. I feel good as you sit beside me and listen to everything so calmly. My son never sat beside me like you. When he used to come, he used to stay with me for few minutes, listen to me for a while, nod his head and leave. Today, I feel good after talking to someone after such a long time.” I couldn’t resist my tears. His story shattered down my soul completely. I never understood how a father can be a liability. How a man with this reputation can be abandoned by his family. He worked throughout his life to provide good life to his children. A noble gentleman but Alas! He couldn’t succeed in making them a good human. Before bidding him farewell, I clicked few pictures with him. Then I went to the NGO’s administration office. There I found two ladies serving tea. As I entered they brought tea for me too. I asked one of them her name, but she didn’t reply. “How are you?” I asked next! She tried to communicate through her fingers. I realized that she is deaf and dumb. Another staff came close to me and told me that her husband has left her alone here. My throat was chocked. I sat there for few minutes with my mouth shut. Another lady who was a friend of her came with a glass of water. She could listen but couldn’t speak. I communicated with that lady, she replied in sign language. When I asked her for a picture she smiled. I grabbed my camera and clicked a picture. Then she asked for one more picture with her friend. Their smile made my day. There were so many more stories of abandoned relation in that house. All staying beneath one roof, with no expectation from life. i was completely disheartened. Today’s society has lost a huge part of its empathy. With increased involvement of technology and the digital world in our day to day life we are facing huge loss of morality. It’s a painful and tragic situation. We, humans have become insensitive to the core values we were taught in our childhood. As our parents age, not always they can accept their inability or dependence. At that time, we must realize our responsibility and make it easy for them to rely on us. With our love, care and support they can spend the remaining days of their life happily and in peace.
Our scriptures says “Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them. And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small” (Quran – 17: 23-24)
I am glad to be associated with this NGO. It’s a great initiative by the organization to work for the less privileged people. Volunteers are doing great to improve the lives of many abandoned senior citizens, victimized women, and mentally disabled people.