I remember visiting the old age home for the first time when I was in class tenth. I got introduced through a friend, and after I started going there regularly, the women in there took me as a common visitor. When I found out about how these women had been abandoned by their families, I couldn’t keep my calm and ended up crying thinking how could people choose to leave such beautiful people behind. It was hard to figure out how this world works or take this as a hard truth. People with disabilities should be taken as they are and accepted by families.
With regular visits and interactions, everyone got used to each other’s presence. Also there were times when I couldn’t leave home and missed seeing them but they never seemed to be bothered by it ever. Neither I felt the need to discuss my medical issues with them for any sorts of explanation. They always welcomed me with warm greetings. I often took my friends there and they always enjoyed every moment with dancing or singing. They hardly noticed what kind of grains or rice or biscuits I bought, but they surely remembered the Kheer my mom made for them. I remember on my early visits they offered me a different chair, but now we just hold hands and sit on the same bench. I am actually good friends with the one who cannot speak or hear but she is extremely expressive while talking and she also keeps complaining about how I did not bring my mother and father along.
The nurses at the care home told me that some of the family members actually just felt better in leaving disabled people there for a better life. Also it seemed like these women with Psychosocial disability don’t remember any significant details about anything. I don’t yet know how to perceive these things. But I feel comfortable thinking that they are safe and happy with each other there. The activities and every day chores at the care home seem to keep them healthy and beautiful.
Now whenever I visit them, they are always excited to talk about how the vegetables in their gardens are doing. They also ask me to get stuff which is not allowed there like crackers for diwali or colors for Holi. I also indulge in further conversation asking about their favourite color or which kind of ornament they will want for my next visit. Even though they have been telling me the same choices over and over for years now, the excitement remains the same. Some days are better than other days too,but at times I see a vacant bed and I don’t know how to process my feelings further. They are aware that someone is missing because they look after each other but the nurses just tell them that the (deceased) person will just be back in a few hours. Soon they get used to their absence. At times, some of them really don’t feel like talking and share some silent moments by just sitting on the same bed. I have seen them observing me very closely, and then they just come and obliquely say “Didi aapko chashma laga hai, mujhe bhi chahiye.”
I wonder if things can be this simple or sorted. It looks like here no one has the fear of being left out or being run down in a race. I mean sure there are hurdles, there always will be but perhaps their minds are more contented than mine. By simple I mean the tags or the standards that are connected to today’s lifestyle. Maybe these are not required. It’s easier for me to spend my day there instead of any other gathering. It gets even easier for me to talk and listen to them talking about how their family members are. They always give me a heart full of blessings as if I am their own blood. It’s a life long relationship.