Seniors settling in foreign lands with their sons or daughters, is a sensitive issue for them, not withstanding the assured support available, which is essential, from their children.
The main stumbling block is the feeling of not belonging to the country of settlement. Even while in India, there are many who would like to go to their native villages, after retirement, where their parents and grand parents lived and died. Even me, after spending over five decades in Hyderabad, where my children were born, those close to me breathed their last, had a nappasai, chinna, chinna asai, small desire, that I should go back to my ancestral village to spend my evenings in life, the only attraction being the soil, water and air, which carried the vibrations of the breath and smell of the sweat of my grand parents. However, wisdom overtook emotion, when I thought about the practical difficulties and stopped wandering on the imaginary valleys and hills.
Non belonging to the place to be settled, is one reason; leaving the belongings behind, is another. The belongings could be house, relatives, nearby temple, pets , plants even big vessels and granite grinding stones, which were in use for ages! Payikka , (given beautiful name Bhagirathy) , left her Vaikkom home only once in life, as she had always a cow or a calf or both in her cattle shed, to look after and refused to leave them under the neighbor’s custody even for a few weeks!
The memories, habits, customs and practices are other weights pulling towards the native land. Memories, as you know, are powerful catalysts.
If the above considerations could be overcome, settling aboard with their sons or daughters could be considered, if living alone back in their country is not safe or undesirable. The reason for my ‘if’s and ‘but’s is that the first choice of almost all seniors is to stay back in their own country, own house, eating the food and going to the places of their choice. When they settle abroad, the oldies should be prepared for some adjustments on their part, may be at the cost of their beliefs and practices.
The medical attendance may not be available immediately, unless in the case of emergency, though they can expect to have good medical care. The milk, fruits and vegetables are pulled out of the temperature- controlled chests and not fresh from the cow’s udders or from the back yard garden. Daily temple visit many not be possible unless the shrines are in walkable distance, a rare possibility. Outside movement will be restricted to great extend if they are not equipped with a permit to drive and know how of driving in high speed, which many elders may not have.
In short, there are difficulties here for the elders in settling permanently. Homes for the aged in India, at affordable price and with essential facilities seem to be an option, If living alone, single or in pair, is impossible.
All these thoughts enter the mind only when one’s body and mind start walking in different directions.
When that happens, depends on many factors, including our way of living, management of thoughts, events and balancing of good and bad things and events.
Preparedness to accept the inevitable, and ability to accept the non acceptable and less acceptable events and things, is a boon, in any age, all the more during our old age.
Flexibility in attitudes and behavior is essential when you get transplanted. It is possible, without sacrificing your basic beliefs. Last evening, while attending an orchestra organized by the fifth standard classmates of Ananya and also on earlier occasions when I had attended non Indian programs, I used to complement myself for my capacity for adaptability, without which , I would be missing many things.
Be open to changes, many doors will open !
Keeping away from life is pushing yourself to oblivion.