A 20-year HelpAge India’s intern from Yes Foundation Fellows Network, narrates her bottled up memories in this heart-warming blog. Read Amaya Philips’ story.
I don’t know how many sleepless nights my Appa might have spent drenched in sweat from heat and worries, while I slept soundly as a little girl. Only when once, I had to sleep in a hot room with sweat rolling down my body, was when I realised how uncomfortable it was. Whereas my father almost always slept in heat so that my sister and I could have access to fan-breeze in the night in our room. I know how much my father and mother have sacrificed for us. My Appa has been a good son who took great care of his parents and fulfilled all his duties with the support of my Amma in all the troubles and happiness, with the same peaceful balance in his heart, at all times.
He always said,” Do not forget anyone who has helped you at any point in your life. They have helped you, not because you asked them to, but because they wanted to. Whenever sometime in future you stand on your feet, help them. Perhaps they won’t ask for your help but when they need you, you should be there.” My father didn’t tell me how to live; he simply lived, and let me watch him do it.
One thing I can tell you for sure is that nothing in this world replaces our own Maa, my dearest Amma. There is an unsaid bond of umbilical cord between the mother and the baby which exists even when the umbilical cord is cut and the baby is born. It was only her, who patiently listened to my foolish blabberings as a toddler. It’s not for nothing, that for most of us, the first word which comes out of our mouth when we are in trouble is Amma. She is a daughter, wife, mother, teacher, friend, cook, detective (who searches and finds out our missing things!) and above all a great listener. For me, Amma is one who understands her children more than anyone else in this world.
There is nobody I’ve come to trust more than my parents. I can say anything frankly to them. I do not fear being judged by them, whereas everyone else at some point or the other has had an ‘opinion’ about me. My parents, however, have always been so busy loving me, that they’ve never had the time to judge me. They’ve always only unconditionally “given”. That’s why they always say, “We live only for you.” One day in my life perhaps, I’ll say the same to my children.
This summer, I am working at HelpAge India, a charity in India, which fights for the rights of the disadvantaged elderly. As a granddaughter, daughter, sister and above all as an individual, I feel so proud to be a part of this effort in a tiny way, which stands against the monster of elder abuse. The postivity, jubilation and the pleasure that I got when I heard the words from the elders during my interaction at eye camps, digital literacy workshops that I conducted with my fellow interns, have all been captured as delightful memories forever. I’ve learnt empathy and service for destitute elders in a way like never before. I urge all young people to volunteer for organizations like HelpAge, because only when you witness such moments, is when you will understand the essence of it. The blessings the elders gave, the smiles they had, the energy they showed were mesmerising. I am so grateful to HelpAge India and Yes Foundation for giving me this opportunity.
Let’s try to give the respect and care that the elderly deserve. My Naani once said to me, “Till the time we have eyes, we don’t realize their value but once they’re gone everything will be dark. Parents are like that. Respect them.” It is true, that when they get old they lose their patience, listening power but so will we, when we get old. I often wonder how much of care, or of help would I be able to give to my parents in the future. After all, I too am a part of the so called “new generation”, with its fast paced smartphone dependent lives that is blamed to be the reason for the growing generation gap on one side, but are encouraged to be the reason for growing technology on the other side. But as a 20-year-old educated individual, I believe that it’s better to put my thoughts into action than mere words. The world is changing, so should we. The least I urge is every young person to start looking up from their phones and start listening to elders with empathy, when they talk to us. Trust me, that’s a good enough start. Volunteer at old age homes, help your old parents, grandparents file their income tax returns before July 31st, greet them with happiness and love, hold their hands when you talk to them, sit and have tea with them, it all adds up. Every drop counts. Every ounce of care counts.
Credits: Amaya Philips, 20-year-old Maths (Honors) student from St. Stephens College, Delhi University.