As June 15 celebrated ‘Elder Abuse Awareness Day’ we decided to step away from convention and talk to seniors who are skilfully piloting their retirement.
Read on for Pune’s elders tell us all about how they’re spending their golden years.
Shobhna Vaidya is turning 90 this month. A born Mumbaikar, turned hard-core Punekar, this woman flashes you a toothless grin as she tells her story. “Initially, I moved to Pune with my husband over 30 years ago, but since his demise my daughter and son-in-law insisted I move in with them.
“I refused point-blank at first, but they wore me down by moving into the apartment next to me and caring for me when I was recuperating from a surgery. Their love and affection convinced me that I wouldn’t be an outsider in their house. It’s been eight blissful years and I couldn’t be happier.”
Vasudha Balse is 87 and she gives us the other side of the story. “I’m embarrassed to say that I was a little wary when my son suggested his mother-in-law move in with us. But my granddaughter asked me how I would have felt living alone myself.
“It was an adjustment at first, but since my husband’s death, she (Shobhna) has been a source of immense support. From wary strangers and roommates to friends turned sisters today, I find that I just cannot do without her. Be it meal-times or TV time, I need my friend by my side!” she beams.
Madhu and Ramesh Kalyanji thought life was just about over as parents of sons with mental disabilities. “When everyone including our relatives shunned me, my husband stood by me with a ‘When life gives you lemons’ approach”, says Madhu.
“At 65, we parted with our sons having admitted them to a care facility in Badlapur. My husband and I now reside at Ashiyana (a retirement community) in Lavasa. It is a good life and one we live with pride having done the best we could”, she says of their bitter-sweet saga.
Cheerily admitting to being the eternal bachelor is Naren Bhayani who at 60 is fondly called ‘aajoba’ by just about everyone in his apartment building.
“Why should I limit myself to one grandchild when I can have ten running around me? My neighbours are a young couple living away from their parents who call me ‘baba’. I have found a family with them and one better than I could ever have imagined!”, he sighs happily.
While these Puneites expertly navigate their second innings, you can’t help but wonder if millennials too plan to care for their folks. Are senior care homes the new convention or will our homes and hearts continue to be filled with the love and laughter of our aging parents?
Food for thought!