Loneliness in a Crowd: The Pain of Old Age

An aged father of my friend once called me up and complained about his loneliness,. His wife had died two years ago and the man wanted to marry a widow so that he can drive away his loneliness. He said bitterly, ” My children do not want me to remarry, perhaps they dont want to share my property with their step mother…..

Two years back I was on my lecture in Pune, a cyber city close to Mumbai, where I was invited to speak in a beautiful outdoor auditorium. There was a cool greenery and it looked a very comfortable place. I roamed around before the talk to enjoy the beauty of well cut plants and trimmed grass spread like velvet.

I was told that the place was a home for old aged people. I asked ,” Oh you mean to say that it is an orphanage for old people ?” ” err, Yes but the faciility is better than homes!” my host said and he added ” we provide best food, there is a TV facility and entertaining games too….. ” Do you provide grandchildrenand other relatives too?” I asked, then threw my anguish ” These facilites are provided in our prisons too !”.

The audience in my talk that day, were the lonely old people of that old age home. I told them ” You are not unlucky to miss your grandchildren but they are unlucky to have missed out playing in the lap of their grandparents who had an experience of bringing up the parents of the very same children…….

A person who has grown up with family, and he lives with family through out his life and youth, but is being sent to a home of old age where he will be spending his time with other old people who are waiting for the sun of their life to set. Every day he waits for some one to visit him and his only visitors are the sms on the mobiles ” Hello dad ! how are you ..Happy father’s Day !…..” In Ahemedabad, India there are luxurious od age home with AC-Suite…. Another news paper article announced that there is a hsortage of old age homes in Mumbai and Gujarat.

According to Hindustan Times July 22, 2006..The most severly isolated and lonely are people over 75, particularly women who are widowed and living alone……Source: Help Age India. According to Dignity Foundation (The Times of India, July 8, 2006) a large number of senior citizens are depressed. They may not be physically alone but they feel that there is no one around for them. It is just like remaining thirsty inspite of staying near a spring.

That reminds me of a note worthy Muslim in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) Owais Qarni who could not meet the Prophet just because he had an ailing old mother to look after. Infact there is no concept of homes for old age in an Islamic society, rather the parents enjoy full rights to stay with their chidlren and if a child dies before them they inherit from their property as well. The Qur’an also commands the Muslims the degree of humbleness that they are suppose to show towards their parents…Do not say even Uff to them.. Surah Isra ch 17 ,verse 23.

Author : Nisaar Nadiadwala speaks and writes on socio-religous topics from Islamic perspective. He can be reached atnisaar_yusuf@yahoo.com