Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Opinion

Let’s meet those lonely souls on Eid to lit up their life

Eid is all about that feeling of togetherness – sharing, belonging, and being one with humanity.

By Reena Rahman

info@thearabianstories.com

Sunday, June 16, 2024

I’m not a chatterbox, but I love to interact with people. I’m not a party hopper, but I love to be in the company of good people and chitchat with them. When I go back to my native, I go back in time to recapture my older days where there is no corporate hierarchy to haunt me.

“When you feel lonely when you are away from people only for a few days, you can guess how lonely those elderly would be feeling when they have to spend the entire twilight zone of their life in loneliness,” said a friend on hearing my tale of this transient loneliness.

My mom can fly to anyone of us whenever she feels alone. Even otherwise also somebody or the other will be there around ever since the passing of my dad, but not everyone is that lucky. The other day I was told about some octogenarians living their life near their tablet waiting for the call of their children, dozing off, and dreaming.

And then the ringtone wakes them up from the dreams. Life in two time zones. When you are awake, your children are fast asleep! Formal questions, wailing about the job-related tensions and the burdens haunting them… In between the grandchildren who find it difficult to talk in the mother tongue of the grandparents.

“You are lucky dad, your life is much luckier,” comments the son. “You can have the fresh air and the fresh water of our well…”

“Then you come home,” tells the dad. But the son prefers not to hear. After a small silence the narrative goes on as usual – job, children, tensions….”

When the daughter-in-law was pregnant the narrative was different. Then there was the lure of the life abroad. “You two should come over here and stay with us. Don’t live lonely over there…”

Once the toddler started walking and was big enough to spend the day in a crèche, the return flight was very quick. Suddenly mom and dad grew too old to live in the climatic extremities and the hustle bustle of the urban life.

Back to the silence and loneliness of the big mansion that never accommodated their mindset that was moulded in their sweat.

This is the ground reality in Kerala and many other parts of the world. Only those who are really lucky grow old gracefully celebrating the colours of life even in their old age.

While sitting this afternoon, sipping my tea on the eve of Eid, these thoughts once again flashed through my mind. Be it Eid, Christmas, Diwali or Onam how those elderly spend their festivals? What they gain? When the festivities are on in the neighbourhood, there are elderly ones who feel more aloof. The longing becomes meaningless for many of them. The aircraft over there in the sky merge with the stars…

And this longing takes me to the world of the warriors for whom the battleground is the festival ground. With a loaf of bread and a bottle of water they may celebrate it while hiding behind a cliff. His wife is trying to connect with him over the cellphone and she miserably fails. Longing is the world for many during the days of festivals.

I am not saying that holidays and celebrations are meant only for the affluent people. During my childhood, when social media was yet to take birth and my native Kerala was less urbanized, we had a lot to celebrate, irrespective of the rich and the poor. But urbanization brought in loneliness too.

In the Gulf countries, where the labourers live in the labour camps and the low income people confine their world to the tiny portion of the bunker cot, flying home for a festival is bit too overambitious a dream because of the skyrocketing flight charge. You cannot spend a fortune and be poorer to be with the family. The dream often ends with a video call and a feast in the common kitchen. They feel united there. The lonely ones eat sing and dance, and the next day it is routine, back to the mundane.

In corporate world also you feel the same loneliness at times though the scale is different. I can take a break and go for shopping, watch a movie in the privacy of my house or visit a friend or colleague. I can buy the cloth of my liking or the gadget I love. And there are times we all want to be alone, in our private space. As Pearl Buck said, “Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.” But what about the children of a lesser God who cannot live their dreams? Their loneliness… their struggles? Their fights for survival? I think our celebrations become meaningful when we empathize with them, and share their loneliness and their struggle.

I think Eid is all about that feeling of togetherness – sharing, belonging, and being one with humanity!

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