I was watching a Kannada movie, where the heroine tells her hubby that he could have taken up a job offer to work abroad and that may have helped him to take care of his old mother and ailing uncle. The hero responds that caring is about taking your mother to the temple and spending quality time with your ailing uncle. It cannot be compensated by money. It really struck a chord with me.
Many of us may be thinking that we can provide anything to anyone with money. We do not realise that money cannot buy everything in life. Money cannot buy time for us. Money cannot get us happiness. Money cannot ensure good health for us.
Our parents sacrifice everything they can so that they give us the best of education and health. They hide their miseries to keep us happy. They ensure that we are not burdened by their life struggles and get bogged down in our education or our career.
So, when we are done with our education and our career, it is time for us to care for them. Interestingly many of us may think that if we provide enough financial support, we are fulfilling our duties towards our parents or elders. It may not be fully true. While money can buy material things in life, it can never substitute for emotions and care which the elderly long for.
The other day someone was narrating to me an incident of how his uncle repeats the same story again and again every time he meets him. He just listens to him and that gives him joy. We may not realise that we as kids may have asked our parents stupid questions or even repeated the same thing again and again till our curiosity was quenched. Our parents, teachers and elders never lost their patience to answer all our inquisitive questions. Today it is our turn. Paying back is the time we spend with the people we care.
Paying back cannot be done always with money. Expressing gratitude is not like repaying a bank loan. While a loan can be repaid and closed, expressing gratitude is timeless. The people who have helped us while we were walking up the mountain of our life may not wait for us when they are walking down their mountain of life.
Each of us will go through the same cycle of life. What we sow, we may reap in the future. If we are grateful to the people who helped us stand up in life without expecting anything in return, we may get support from unexpected quarters when we are slipping down the path of life. I have always believed that we need to be selfless in helping others and God will take care of us when we need it most.
Our ability to remember that relationships are not “transactional” is the key to life. Life is a zero sum game. Life is not always about repaying debts – financially or otherwise. Life is about unconditional gratitude to the people, who have made us what we are today. Life is about the realisation that what happens to someone today may happen to us in the future.
Life is about spreading joy in the life of others. If we can bring a smile to someone we care, we have made their day. This may not be possible always by spending money. It could be the time we spend their them. It could be by being there when they need us most. It could be doing something for them without their even knowing about it.
We need to remember that our parents did not do what they did for us expecting anything in return. The last thing they expect from us is money. The most important need is to realise that our needs go down as we age. We do not care for the material things in life. What we long for is quality of time, relationships, love and care.
As in the photo above, every time I spent quality time with my nonagenarian aunt, I have learnt more about life and living and understood the meaning of love and care. Her unconditional love and patience has always made me realise the value of sharing and giving without expecting anything in return.
Let us commit to look within. Life is cyclic and if we do not realise it today, it will make us realise when we are at the receiving end of life.
Time to realise is today.
S Ramesh Shankar
6th February 2022