Saturday, February 17, 2007

Senior Citizens And Remarriage
Old people in India, particularly in Gujarat state, registering at marriage bureaus, have become a repeat news item in Times Of India. It does not surprise me .What surprises me is the fact that such news headlines are preceded by an exclamation mark. It’s the most logical thing to do for a thinking, life loving senior citizen. Another thing that I find a little disconcerting is the stress given to companionship in these news items. True, senior citizens marry mainly for companionship, but a little love and romance too would not be out of place. Perhaps, the children can accept the idea of companionship a little more readily. Be as it may, the trend is definitely heartening. Today’s article also talks about them also looking for live in relationships. I wonder, though, if at their stage of life it matters whether it is a legal marriage or any other arrangement. Perhaps, some people are looking at the option of live in relationship to avoid the property disputes, in future, in case of the termination of the relationship as a result of death, discord or incompatibility. There probably could be some legal solutions like a disclaimer, or some kind of mutual legal agreement about this.
The idea of senior citizens finding a partner is very beneficial to society as a whole and the persons concerned in particular. This is something very common in the west but a relatively new phenomenon in India. I would like to discuss the likely benefits and practicality of such an arrangement especially in the context of today’s reality.
Most of us in India are accustomed to the idea of young adults getting married. If someone stays single he/she is often advised, goaded, coerced into marriage. Most friends and relatives are happy to help them find an alliance. Marriage at middle age is also accepted. It is only when a person has crossed fifty and marries that we look a bit surprised and some of us may even find it a bit out of place or some may even find it ridiculous.
If we leave aside the child bearing and rearing aspect of a marriage, then these mature people are the ones who really need someone to share their lives with. Working people hardly find time to share their lives with their spouses. It is at this stage, say after sixty, of life that one finds the time and the patience to be with someone, talk, take walks, share little and big household duties, discuss the past, dream about the present and the future. One learns to appreciate companionship, sharing and caring. There are very few avenues left of spending time with people. Usually, the children are grown up, settled in their lives and there are no responsibilities towards them left. Loneliness grips the senior citizen like never before.
The joint family is no more and even when it is there, the form of the joint family has changed drastically. At the most, it consists of parents and their married children. In such a case if the senior person loses his /her spouse, there is no other person of his/her age group in the family. All the other members are busy with their lives. It is only this person who finds time hanging heavy and even if he/she has work or hobbies, sharing, talking, and togetherness are still missing. It is not practical to expect the younger generation to spend and enjoy the limited time they have with the older generation. Supposing they do so, even then the comradeship is missing. One need people of ones own age to share one’s life with. It is often seen that when a parent is single and old the children often feel a sense of obligation to spend time with him/ her. Sometimes, this leads to resentment and heart burn. Often the young couple feels compelled to return home early from a party while the other friends are still enjoying. This may be acceptable a few times but when done over long years it leads to resentment. The parent can no longer be the most important person in the children’s lives. One needs a spouse to get the attention the most important person in our lives gets.
Looking from the perspective of the senior citizen, he / she has spent life earning and working hard. Now is the time when he /she can relax, visit places, enjoying the fruits of labour. But one needs someone to enjoy life with. It is very logical that there is a spouse around. So if unfortunately, the spouse is lost there is no harm in finding a new one to share life with. Old age is also not an easy time to make new friends. The avenues of meeting people are very limited. The life expectancy has increased so much that it no longer is a question of a few lone years, it can become decades of lonely life accompanied by sickness when a loving and caring person is most valuable.
If it is not possible to find a partner on ones own then where is the harm in making use of specialized services to meet with perspective life partners? The best and the happiest scenario would be one where the children, friends and relatives encourage the lonely person to look for someone special in life. It would make the decision so much easier, especially in the context of traditional Indian society and family. This gift of ‘I care for you’ attitude is the best gift children can give their lonely parent.


Aflatoon said...

बधाई । बहुत सुन्दर आलेख । क्या यह चिट्ठा गद्य के लिए है ? या अंग्रेजी अभिव्यक्ति के लिए? क्या हिन्दी में गद्य नहीं लिखेंगी? ऐसे विषयों पर बहुत कम लिखा जा रहा है,हिन्दी में।

miredmirage said...

Hi Mr.Aflatoon. My friend, I am glad you took the trouble of visiting this site.Thank you. This site is for English. I have been v lazy in writing in English . I will be posting prose in Hindi very soon.

Sunil Deepak said...

I agree completely, though probably I would have expressed myself in different words. Words like "senior citizen" feel kind of strange, though I understand that you mean it in a positive way. You don't mention sex at all, and I feel that to be with someone and to be intimate is equally important. It won't be in the same way as it is for younger persons but still no less important! :-)

ज्ञानदत्त पाण्डेय Gyandutt Pandey said...

I got a friend, a bachelor at 52. I do not know how he will live the balance life; particularly when he does not have a joint family to fall back upon.
We worry about him a lot...A loner who does not know how to cook a meal even.

nandan said...

a good article, infact we need more such stuffs in hindi press to make ppl think on this line. so far old age problem has been seen only from the point of CARE n health particularily from children side. few of the debate n govt policy is directed towards the financial independence of old ppl. but the softer side of old age problem have never been debated in hindi media ( why hindi media? coz we know what % of indians know english!). well done ghughuti...hv u ever tried for journalist job!!!...ha..haa...

अभय तिवारी said...

nice writing..

Shekhar said...

I totally endorse your views and compliment you for your thinking and vision.

I saw that you visited my mom's page and read and commented on her story, "puraskaar". Thank you for your time and interest.

If I am not asking for too much, there is a link to my blog as well on my mom's blog. If and when your time permits, I shall await your comments on my humble writings too.



Beji said...

I completely agree!!

As Sunilji says...yeah intimacy still should hold meaning.....

as you say legal issues need to be properly seen to....

and yes society changes when its people do....

nice post!!

muzza55 said...

You are absolutely right. Your thoughts are well presented. Unfortunately these prejudices aren't confined to Gujarat or merely within India.They appear to be world wide. As you say, once you reach the magic age of 50 or above you are condemned to the social scrapheap. Age is only a number after all. What about the young-at-heart? Everyone is entitled to happiness or companionship. If that develops further then "good luck to you!" I say. Companionship and intimacy should be a right not a privelege. Young people dont have the monopoly on hsppiness. Anyway thank you and well done on your interesting, well written and thought provoking article. Best regards.

Vishwanath said...

I accidentally stumbled on to this English blog of yours today Dec 6, 2007.

I read your thoughts with interest and felt compelled to comment.
This is a sensitive and touchy subject.
You have presented your views ably.
I sympathize with the old (I am not too young myself).

I feel we need a much more mature and reformed society before these ideas can become common and acceptable. It will be quite a few years before our society takes matrimonial alliances for the aged in its stride and no eyebrows are raised.

Property and inheritance will become major isuses. Friction between the offspring on both sides will have to be taken care of. Sons and daughters of the old man are not going to take kindly to sharing the old man's assets with a total stranger.

Accusations of trapping an old man, will be hurled on the hapless old woman. If the woman is better off financially, the direction of the charges will be reversed. The old man will be called an opportunist.

Sex has not been mentioned. It is obviously the least likely reason for any marriage among these age groups, but society can be cruel. Behind his poor back, people will snigger "Dirty old lecher".

Mischievous relatives will have a field day outlining possible scenarious on Suhaag Raat.

No, I feel the idea is noble and cannot be faulted but our present Indian society is not yet ready for this reform in our society. While these marriages may be legally acceptable, socially they will not be acceptable. May be the next generation will be better than us.

Thanks for a thought provoking write up.

G Vishwanath, JP Nagar, Bangalore

मीनाक्षी said...

wonderful....just great... today i just scroll down after rain pics... and got this untitled article. salute to u for so thoughtful views abt old age seniors.

Ila's world, in and out said...

i've been reading ur posts for the past three months, and i want to congratulate you for commanding equal authority in both hindi and english.senior adults getting together is an encouraging sign, in this day and age when children are moving away from parents in search of livelihood, it is only natural that lonely people seek permanent companionship.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this posting

indianrj said...

Long back, I had read a story on this topic in "Sarita". It touched my heart. Seeing oneself at a later stage of life lonely is very depressing. Good idea to get some like-minded person to live the rest of life.

poemsnpuja said...

a very good piece of writing on a subject that is rarely discussed. old age is the time when one actually needs someone to spend the bulk of time he the song...aane chaar aane from lage raho munnabhai. the second innings are equally important.

Pawan Kumar said...

nice writing..
I completely agree!!