‘Age is an issue of mind over matter,’ said, Mark Twain… ‘If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter


Yesterday,st October, was World Elders’ Day… And I never knew it. When I read it in the Gulf News this morning, I felt guilty first… guilty about my ignorance….guilty that I could have put a little bit of sunshine into the ordinary days of three sets of elders by simply calling them and talking to them for a while.

Ignorantia juris non excusat!

Ignorance of the law does not excuse…  Of course, in the eyes of the world, I have not violated any law, but my conscience says otherwise.


I said three sets of elders… Out of them two are Dad and Mom and Appa and Amma. The third are two very old people, in their eighties…( well….I have my dearest Chithi and Chithappa  who are in their sixties….but I just can’t think of them as ‘elders’….they are fresh and young at heart…full of life and bounce, God bless them and keep them that way!) I am talking about my father’s cousin, fondly called Bhuvana Athai and her husband, Parasuraman Athimbar. They are the sweetest among my relatives. Athai is severely asthmatic, needing Oxygen at home to help her breathe easy… and Athimbar is hard of hearing. They are childless in the technical sense of the term, but have nurtured many a child in the family-  immediate and extended- with their generous hearts and hands.


 When my kids were in the residential school, Ramakrishna Vidyashala,  in Mysore, they were the local guardians and my husband and I got really close to them. They would insist that we stay in their beautiful and spacious house in Saraswatipuram. I have visited with them countless times. When my children went to Coimbatore for their graduate years, they remarked sadly that now we’d forget them. We tried not to and I would manage to squeeze in a visit every year - albeit a short one. This year I could not.


 So I felt guilty when I read the newspaper item on World Elders’ Day…


The World Elders Day, a day when we remember the elders and most 'less talked about' people around…’




This is what the Hindu writes:


TODAY, OCTOBER 1, is identified as the World Elders Day – a day when we remember the elders in our society. There is no hull bulla and very little prominence because elders are seldom taken seriously and a feeling exists that they are occupying precious place and breathing out too much carbon dioxide for comfort. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that a day has been set aside in the calendar for paying tributes to the elders….




Now you know why I felt guilty… and why Bhuvana Athai and Athimbar came to my mind immediately. Without a second thought, I groped around for my little brown book to look up the once familiar number. The voice at the other end squealed in joy when it came to know that I was the caller. I spent a good 20 minutes updating her on what is happening in my world… She had the speaker phone on so that both could listen to me… He asked me if I was calling from India, I said, no,  from Sharjah and he didn’t talk much. Enquired about RP and the twins, my in laws and wished me well… But both of them asked me something which wrenched my heart a little: “ Next time when you come to India, will you come down?”  My eyes welled up at the sound of love… and yearning in that query. I dared not promise. What if I am unable to? I said I’ll try my best to. They sounded happy while acknowledging that assurance… 


Athai is my father’s cousin. Born and brought up in Hyderabad, she is the most knowledgeable and up to date person of her generation I have come across. ( My mom follows close) She can fluently speak, read and write English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada…She speaks her mind, but I have never found it offensive. She writes such lovely and long letters… Technological gizmos have kept themselves away from their doorstep. Except for cable TV -  which keeps them at par with the world issues - politics, sports, happenings….you name it, they know it… They are NOT hooked to mega serials and sitcoms... but can talk to you confidently about the reverse brain drain or the construction boom in Dubai or the current religious intolerance in Orissa or the politics behind ICLs and IPLs… with the confidence that comes with absolute knowledge.


She introduced me to the world of Barbara Cartland, Hermina Black and Denise Robins… Last time I went to her place, she said, I could take her collection of the romances…which made my day… but I said, I’d do that another time! She is very artistic and the decorations and knick knacks adorning the walls and niches of her house stand testimony to that!


Athimbar, on the other hand, is a sweetie pie…I can not think of another word for him. He takes such good care of his wife. Athai is prone to severe attacks of Asthma and he takes care of her with so much love and concern, it brings a lump to the throat, watching him! When I asked her how she is she told me, ‘Okay…. But Athimbar does most of the chores around the house, now a days… and we are carrying on…If anything happens to him, we’ll be doomed!”  My heart ached as I heard those words… Last time I visited them, he told me, “So long as we are together it is okay. I dread to think of what would happen if one of us passes away…”

How can I forget the warmth with which she used to make idlis and coffees for me… the way we used to catch up on what the kith and kin are doing… ? She has to her credit many a successful matrimonial alliances in the family circles… How can I forget his warm hugs…and the care he takes in accompanying me till the auto stand and making sure that the autokkaran does not fleece me?  I feel very possessive of them… Yet I tend to forget them…


All I could do was just pray to God to bestow on them good health and strength… oodles of it… as He has been all these years…


I promise I will visit them. Not as an obligation… not as condescension on a childless old couple… not as a penance for ignoring a couple of senior citizens…not because a newspaper item triggers off tsunamis of guilt inside me…

… but because I simply love them and spending time  with them.


World Elders’ Day passed by me unnoticed… but it made a lot of difference to me.


Athai – Tamil term for paternal aunt, father’s sister, Buaji

Athimbar -  Athai’s spouse, Fufaji (?)

Chithi – maternal aunt ( Mausi)

Chithappa – Maternal aunt’s  spouse, Mausaji




































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