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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: It Feels As If I Am Already Dead, Like I Am A Ghost, Says A 75 Y.O. Mother

  • IWB Post
  •  June 13, 2018

‘Useless, that’s what you are for me’- imagine a son saying this to his aging mother. This isn’t some made-up fable, rather a reality many old-aged people are living as I type. ‘Elder abuse’- a term people often associate with physical violence as one can see the bruises or broken bones, but this isn’t the only type of abuse there is. It can be verbal and emotional as well. It can be disrespect, neglect, and abandonment too.

On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we share with you real-life stories of the elderly that they live within the four walls of their house, a reality that they refrain from revealing. Tortured and isolated, they accept it all, refusing to seek help for fear of tarnishing their family honor and above all, limited by their love for the family they devoted years to.

Krishna Aunty (name changed), well to be more precise, Chocolate wali Aunty is how I grew up knowing her. As a child, I remember her never being short on chocolates in her bag or those bright smiles of hers. With my mom’s strict rule of no chocolates (God knows why!), Aunty was like a fairy godmother to me. She was like this ball of unlimited energy, playing with us kids in the colony and running around, doing her chores.

I never had a proper interaction with Shekhar (name changed), her son, apart from the formal namastes when he would come across my mother. But for the past five years, since his father passed away, it’s only him I see now. Aunty, now 75, has stopped stepping out of her house, and on the rare occasions that we do see her, it’s like seeing an empty shell of a person she was. She looks so… lost.

She has lost a worrying amount of weight and looks like she has stopped sleeping or to be precise – stopped living. We all in the neighborhood were afraid that she might be abused by her son, a doubt that her nephew had as well. He tried to take her away but couldn’t prove that Shekhar was indeed torturing his mother- there were no marks on her body nor had her neighbors ever heard her son raise his voice against her. Even she denied that any such thing was happening.

Just a month ago, she approached me with a request that I help her in finding an old age home she can shift to. To say I was shocked would be an understatement but she underplayed the situation saying as her son is getting married, she wants to give the couple space. But the resigned look in her eyes was telling a different story and when Shekhar, returning from his office, wordlessly took the house keys from her and went in without a backward glance, I was sure that something was wrong.

“Oh, he stopped talking to me ages ago and when he does, it is to say that I am the reason that he can’t have a family of his own,” she said with a sad smile when I inquired about Shekhar’s behaviour. “The words he utters, the bitter whispers he aims at me, they are like barbs making holes in my heart. The girl he likes has put a condition for marrying him – she won’t be able to adjust with me. My own son wants me to leave the home I lived in all my life and go to an old age home.”

“After I refused to leave, he just stopped talking to me. He doesn’t even look in my direction. I may be groaning in pain, have a fever, but he never comes to check, to take care of his mother. I made puri halwa for him on his birthday, you know, but he just went by ignoring that I had been waiting for him there, with that cake he used to love so much. Five years, five years it has been like I am already dead, wandering the empty halls of my house like a ghost,” she said, ending her sentence in a choked whisper.

No one knew what she had been enduring in the past five years, as in a bid to protect the ‘honor’ of her family and out of love for her son, she had not told anyone about it. But that day when she told me about it all, she also revealed how he had slapped her that day when she once again refused to leave.

I don’t know, maybe he crossed an invisible line that day and she soon left the sanctuary she had built with devotion and love along with her husband. 

This is not a lone incident neither the last one. Elderly people are suffering from abuse this very instant. While they won’t or maybe can’t approach anyone for help, you can. If you’ve noticed any such case of elder abuse, contact at the below-given number to provide these innocent victims the help they desperately need:

Helpage India:  011-41688955-56,1800-180-1253

Nightingales Medical Trust: + 91 80 4242 6565

The Golden age helpline: 1800-180-0060

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