Saturday, 4 February 2017

Your Presence Heart-warming

" I prefer when someone comes to meet me. When he / she spends time with me and gives me no gifts....." This poignant line from an old and rather unknown Afro-American poetess' poem always stirred the strings of my heart. She died in a decrepit old home in New Orleans. The quality time someone spends with you is far more important than his / her gifts that often smack of perfunctoriness. When I visit old homes and orphanages, I  very well discern that the inmates long for people's company. They want someone who can at least temporarily bring them out of their shells of loneliness. Your gifts are of no use to them; your presence is. As the Bard of Avon wrote in one of his sonnets 'The seven stages of a man', old age is the 'second childhood.'
The parentless kids in an orphanage and often disillusioned old people in an old home are almost similar in many ways. They look forward to people visiting them and spending some time listening to their tales of woes, joys, pains and loneliness. The pressing needs of a hectic life have left us with no time even for ourselves, let alone for others. We're all like islands. Even in our daily interactions and social intercourses with others, there's always a casual approach. We often erroneously think that by gifting or sending money, we've discharged our moral responsibilities.

Not objects but a personal touch is something we all long for. Grown up children seldom come home to spend their time with their old and ailing parents, instead they send hefty amounts of money and look for old homes to dump their parents at. On my numerous visits to old homes across the world, I've found a remarkable similarity that no old person lives there on his/ her own. All old people go there as the last refuge and an ineluctable resort. Though many old couples will try to convince you that they've opted for old homes as they don't want to be liabiliities to their children, the reality is: They're at an old home because they're unwanted. It's a simple and unvarnished truth.


Such miserable and crestfallen people crave for company, words of empathy and a touch of love. They want a heart that heals, a smile that lingers and a touch that never hurts. To be alone at the fag end of one's life is never desirable. It's a curse. All the memories of life, especially the bad and sad ones, flood back to torment you all the more when you're old and uncared for. We must realise that eventually we all have to face the same unavoidable fate. So we must be sensitive to the needs of old people.


 After all, what goes around, comes around. It's nature's infallible law. To quote from Leslie Langhorn's poem " An Old Man's Tale ", " Come and spend a few moments with me / Bring no rose, no flower/ The flower of my life is fast withering/ All I want is your presence heart-warming........"              
                              ---Sumit Paul


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