Stop complaining about old people’s homes, Pakistan
As I was trying to read a book, a constant shrilly voice was piercing through my ear. It became hard to concentrate on the book anymore, so my mind started processing the voice. It was a TV show called What’s up Rabi – about an old home.
In the hope of following a new perspective, I started following the show. The show treaded on well walked lines. The narrative sailed as expected: the old citizens are victims. In a platonic world, they should be at their homes right now, relaxing with their family. But, things did not go as planned. They had to leave the comforts of their home and shift to an old home.
The story is tragic and the idea sells well. No matter how many shows they do about it, it never gets old. The emotional value invested is a great catch. Everyone in our society can relate to it and would be on the same page (few rare things we agree on). In order to spice things up, the host kept suggesting ideas to the old citizens while focusing the camera incessantly on them. Some of them were uncomfortable with this unwanted attention and kept averting their face. The narrative was single dimensional and politically correct.
“Okay, aap ki bahu nae chati kay ap wahan rahain?”
(Your daughter-in-law doesn’t want you to live with them?)
Finding convenient villain and delivering some moral rhetoric about contemporary bahus. Of course, with the right music in the background.
Like always there is another side to this story which probably is not sensational enough for the media to sell. What the host didn’t notice or didn’t want us to notice was the clean and comfortable environment. The senior citizens were clearly living in a congenial atmosphere. They had clean clothes and were in good health which showed they were given proper facilities. Old homes are favourite fodder for TV shows. They keep harping upon values and painting an incomplete picture. None of them talks about the changing family fabric of our society.
I have seen many old people being mistreated in their own homes. They are not given proper food, health and companionship. Neglected and sometimes persecuted by their own family within four walls could be exhausting and traumatising for the fragile souls. Some of them have even graver fates. Being vulnerable and pitiable, they become ideal beggars. The video below proves exactly that,
So, won’t it be better for them to find a safe and healthy environment – where they can also find companionship in their surroundings. It should be appreciated and encouraged as a safe abode. In order to get a better perspective, I talked to Sidra Aslam who is running a day-care for senior citizens along with other volunteers. The idea was novel and interesting to me. She described how they came upon this idea by witnessing the loneliness and abandonment of the elderly.
Their institute provides them with a chance to find meaning in life through creative activities and companionship again. She is of the view that in the rapidly changing lifestyle of the contemporary time, the elderly need help to lead a meaningful and active life.
It’s high time that we stop stereotyping good causes and develop a more realistic view.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.