Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Decaying Society?

Recently I heard a gentleman comment that the old are treated more shoddily in India than in the west and so are the mentally challenged. In the daily blur of life, we rarely have time to reflect on such social issues but this statement made me watch out for its validity.

The first step was the movie 15 Park Avenue which depicts a very real dilemma of having a mentally challenged member at home and how the family copes. I could relate to that situation as I myself have seen a somewhat schizophrenic lady in my own family. She could not handle her disappointment after giving birth to a female child; she wanted a son desperately to gain acceptance and favor of her in laws. She lost her balance and from then on has remained under very heavy medication and sedation. For many many years her husband ensured that she gets to lead a normal life as far as possible, the extended family accepted her and pretended that serving salt to guests was perfectly normal. Perhaps this support still makes her go on now though times are much more difficult with the care givers passing away and children having their own families to raise.

The other day I went to a prayer meeting where 80% of the people were over 70. For them it has been a life long habit to attend the annual prayer meetings, many came on wheel chairs, some with walking sticks and some supported by their sons, daughters or nurses. One lady seemed to be close to 90 and was seated on a chair, her relative kept wiping the saliva that trickled from the side of her mouth at regular intervals and adjusted her clothes when she fidgeted. The grandchildren helped in feeding the grandparents or held their hands while they negotiated steps.

In my own house my maid talks to herself loudly and sometimes has heated arguments with no one in particular. I keep worrying that she might harm somebody in one of her fits. She was married off to the first available person because she was the ugliest in the family, her husband promptly married again and his family and he beat up this lady and threw her out without a penny. Her brothers would not take her back so she had to fend for herself from then on - it cannot have been an easy life. Perhaps today her only outlet to the angst held within is having imaginary conversations with people who wronged her. We somehow despite our many reservations understand.

So I cannot wholly agree with the statement going by my observations in the last few days, there is an ugly side but I hope the good still outnumbers the bad.


Abhi said...

Hi.Came upon your blog searching for reviews on 15 park avenue.And after having seen it , I can only say it's a brilliant attempt to sensitise the issue to people as removed from it as I am.

ichatteralot said...

What is brilliant - my blog post or the movie??? :-)