Why, indeed? There are umpteen examples all around us of gross neglect and sheer indifference. The newspapers are full of shabby treatment meted out to old parents. It tugs at my heartstrings, and I wonder what the world is coming to? Yet, what do we do about it? Do we at any point of time feel the need to take out time from our busy schedule to even help some aged person cross the road? No, our life is in the fast lane, and we have no time for the slowness associated with the old. But we do owe them some respect, some dignity. Why don’t we ever think of going over to the house of the elderly couple living across the road and just greet them with a cheery ‘hi!’? Sometimes, a smile and a hello is enough to make them feel alive. Maybe a warm, toothless smile is accompanied with the offer of a hot ‘chai’. If so, consider yourself blessed. They don’t open their hearts and hearths to all and sundry. The chai, their company and their pearls of wisdom are priceless. A few nostalgic reminiscences interspersed with “in our days” comparisons won’t hurt you, maybe they even add a new dimension to your life. Maybe, someone somewhere will be doing the same with your parents when they need it the most. After all the chain of good deeds shows up unexpected links. If nothing else, I can assure you that you’ll definitely sleep easy that night.

I remember a very heart warming incident. I saw a middle-aged woman with a frail lady in a wheelchair at a mall. Both of them were tucking heartily into McDonald’s burger, and chatting animatedly. There was such a strong resemblance in their facial features that it did not take exceptional deductive skills to make out that they were mother and daughter. I heard the younger one edge her mother on to hurry up lest they miss the movie. The mother smiled and said, ‘I want to have an ice-cream as well.’ The daughter mock-rolled her eyes and proceeded to get ice-creams for the both of them. I smiled to myself.

The battles that our seniors wage and the indignities they suffer are sometimes so basic that one wonders why no one thought of doing something about it. I know how terrible I recently felt when my fiercely independent parents (god bless them!) shared that the print on medicine foils was so fine that they couldn’t read it even with glasses. They disliked it, but had to ask for help from other family members to read it. Why can’t our companies make the print bolder at least for geriatric medicines (meant for the elderly), where missing a dose or making a mistake could be a matter of life and death?

 A little more thought, a little more moral responsibility could actually make all the difference in someone’s life somewhere. Remember the adoring look your parents always reserved for you – well, it’s payback time!