My friend Anand and I had to change our bench from the usual one where we sit every evening at the joggers’ park due to a sudden downpour. We shifted to a bench under some trees. This bench was already occupied by an infrequent visitor, who we had seen at the park but had not met and made friends with.
The rain gave us an opportunity to make friends with this stranger and it turned out to be an illuminating meeting.
Our new friend is now 81. He is a Sindhi who came to Jaipur from Hyderabad, Sindh, in 1947 after India and Pakistan became two countries. His father started a small business in 1948 and our friend made it grow and flourish. A typical story of many such refugees who had to leave their homes in what is now Pakistan and move to India.
He is blessed with two sons neither of who stays with him at Jaipur. He is a widower and lives all alone in a palatial home in Jaipur and having sold off his business to retire, spends his time shuttling between Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Pune. His two sons live in these two cities.
The illuminating story that we heard was the sad change in his life style. Neither of his daughters in law is able to provide the kind of food that he was used to getting when his wife was alive. Moreover, his attempts at training the servants in both households have not been taken well by the daughters in law who fear that the help may leave if he does not handle them properly!
Our new friend’s loneliness and sense of rejection by his family came out loud and clear and broke our heart. There was little that we could do other than to invite him to join us whenever we were at the park and if he would like to visit us at our homes.
Such stories are very common among widows. This is the first time that either Anand or I had come across the same story from a man. Just goes to show that one has to be very lucky to be a Senior Citizen and be happy among friends and family.