Times keep on changing. So also life, values and attitudes change. The pace of change is even faster since the advent of Internet. It brought neck break speed to life. Anyone who reached the age of 25 years by 1980, he is unable to keep pace with life as their upbringing was much slower. They were taught to slow down when they came across elders, pay their respects, answer the questions and not move away until ‘you are permitted to go.’ It was a different pattern altogether. They are now old in 2018, they are unable to cope with the fast lane. They evaluate their grand children and their responses with the same yard stick that was applicable in their childhood.
Lakshmnanbhai Shah was suffering from this syndrome when dealing with his grand children, his daughter’s daughter as well as the two young daughters of his son Rahul. The three of them were always taking a long time to respond whenever he called them. The children had realised that they had little of interest to them.
One day in the first week of July, the Grandfather was keen to show them his collection of old and rare coins. His mother had collected old coins. It included rare coins that were minted to commemorate the ascendancy of Queen Victoria. He was sure that no other person of his age would have such a collection of Indian coins minted in the last decades of the British Empire.
He had called them thrice but three did not move away from their computer.
Lakshmanbhai used to come to Mumbai virtually every alternate month. Five years ago, his visits were more frequent and his stay was also longer. Often he and his wife stayed for two weeks on their way to Bangalore or on their return. Now he noticed that his wife was reluctant to visit Mumbai. Even after his goading she would not talk of her reluctance but pretend that the Mumbai climate suited her no more.
She had raised her daughter Charu and son Rahul as she would care for her two eyes. Both were very fond of her. Charu would throw her hands around her mother the moment she landed at home and declare in a carefree tone, ‘Oh Moms, life would be impossible without you around me.’
At 25, they had got her married. Then she had been a reluctant bride but in three months everything changed. When she came to visit her parents for a week, Madhuri noticed a change in her behaviour. Instead of addressing her as Moms, as she always did, she was calling her Mummy. She was obviously thinking of her mother in law and not of her mother. In her 14 days’ stay with them, she spent only the last night to be with the family. Otherwise she was busy with her friends and her husband’s relations. Madhuri had made special dishes of her liking every night but she came back home at midnight to announce she had already eaten.
Did all this mean that she and her husband had lost their place in their daughter’s thoughts and in her heart? Slowly Madhuri realized that same had also happened to her after her marriage. The only difference was in the pace of change. But her life also had undergone a drastic change after her two children were born. They had become her complete world. Her daughter too needed to change pawns, kings and knights in the game of life. Madhuri realized that she would need to develop a sense of detachment in all her relationships.
She often recalled how her son would declare to her that he would rather starve than eat food made by anyone else. Even when he was away from home for his studies, he invariably spoke to his mother and made only one complaint that he was missing her food and her smiles. After his marriage with a girl of his choice, he took up a job in Mumbai. With the job also came a spacious accommodation. The parents were allotted a room for their exclusive use. Nothing was left wanting in ensuring their comfort. Yet both were unhappy as they felt something missing. They missed his affection. Madhuri planned and prepared special dishes that her son liked and loved most. But she was invariably told that they had to attend a dinner outside. The aroma wafting from his favourite dishes did not tempt him to even take a bite. All this made Madhuri avoid visiting her son in Mumbai.
She noticed that Rohini, her daughter in law, made efforts to please her by seeking to know how she made the dishes that were favourites of Rahul. Madhuri could not decide whether her queries were only to comfort her or to really learn them.
For Lakshmanbhai, the bone of contention for his dissatisfaction was his inability to arouse the interest of the children. He tried several times to get them close to him so he could cuddle them. But both would not tear away from their computer. He noticed that the eight year old younger daughter Hiya was adept in using the computer and in getting Google to answer all her queries.
The old man had already crossed sixty years and had retired when Hiya was born. He knew very little of computer usage except using the Word and sending or reading email messages. He realized his shortcoming but was not willing to accept it as a reason for his distance with his granddaughters. In accepting the theory he sensed acceptance of his becoming irrelevant to his grandchildren.
It was the whip lash of the changing times. The old were becoming irrelevant to the growing generation but the elderly are unable to accept the harsh reality and continue to blame their children instead of developing the habit of becoming detached . They do not realize that they have also to change to be attuned to modern needs. After all ‘Change is the only Constant.’