In life’s cycle, old age is the most certain and inevitable stage. In fact it completes the cycle but it also makes people vulnerable. They, just like a toddler, need all the support and care, which definitely and certainly allude them. A helping hand, when most required, vanishes. Youngsters, when needed most and that too with anticipation, simply refuse to pay heed. Old, feeble and infirm people sometimes face all sorts of humiliation and neglect in isolation. In a way they become trash bins, lying in the neglected corners of a house. Anyone can come, can heap abuses, can accuse them for anything and everything and then can leave without any trace of repent or remorse. If you are the eldest, the trauma multiplies.
After posting my blog about Amita Pathak, I was spending a lazy Sunday. This luxury happened to me after a long time. After reading Times Of India, I started thinking about my life and its journey till now. Meandering through many ups and downs, braving inclement weather, walking in cold and heat, bracing challenges after challenges,facing opponents after opponents and listening acerbic criticism and harsh condemnation, it is still hurtling and inching to its unknown destination. How many battles, how many wars are yet to come, I don’t know. I do not know, how many opponents are still lurking in the dark and are waiting to pounce on me. Multiplicity of enemies and enormity of hindrances are yet to get over. And I am getting old. But life moves on. And for me it moves in phases.
THE FIRST PHASE : 1952 – 1974 ( The Formative Years )
Though I didn’t realize it then, but my first 22 years were my golden period. During this period, though I lost mygrandfather, maa and my father, but still I think and believe, it is the best period of my life. In spite of asinine activities and futile sibling rivalry, this period was my best till date. When I revisit my childhood, I am amazed at the idyllic pace and carefree atmosphere of those days. Reading a lot, playing a bit and roaming around here and there, carelessly and aimlessly was the order of the day. Little did I realize then, that these days are not going to come back again in my life. A sense of nostalgia grips me whenever I look back and try to tread same path again. Those 22 years were spent in the cities of Deoria and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh . If I divide it further, I spent 15 years in Deoria, where I was born and studied till High School. I passed High School in 1967 and then went to Allahabad for further studies. I spent 07 years in Allahabad. In 1974 my father died and I decided to return to Deoria after completing post graduation. I returned to Deoria from Allahabad and thus the first phase of my life ended. After my father’s death, technically and legally I became head of the family, but since my mother was alive, I was neither the eldest, nor the oldest. My flanks were protected and I felt secured in my mind.
THE SECOND PHASE : 1974 – 1989 ( The Quest Of A New Path )
My second phase of 15 years started again in Deoria, in 1974. This period was full of turmoil and deaths. My relatives, some friends and some close people started dying one by one. It is strange, rather bizarre. You start a family. By matrimony or by other associations you have close relatives and then slowly they start leaving this world one by one. Apart from deaths this period was full of struggle, dispute, litigation and confusion. Almost 22 court cases were pending in various courts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar regarding my property and family matters. I started fighting the court cases and started doing social work. I worked day and night and created a niche for myself. As I rose in public esteem, my friends became envious and started their vitriolic and venomous campaign against me. there was no respite in sight and their ferocity increased by each passing day. To buy peace of mind I decided to leave Deoria and came to Mumbai in 1989. And thus second phase of my life ended. But I was yet to get old, yet to become the eldest. But a new struggle was starting all over again.
The Third Phase : 1989 – 2009 ( The New Path – Voyage Starts )
I came to Mumbai and started my struggle for a new life. Some hits, few misses ; some victories, few defeats and a sense of insecurity became part of my life. It
started as a lonely journey and it is still lonely in spite of 20 long years. I travelled every nook and corner of Mumbai. I accepted students of every hue and colour. Sometimes I worked even without getting paid , though I was in dire need of money. Days , months and years passed. there was no end of my struggle in sight. I worked tirelessly, sometimes without food , sometimes without proper clothes , but I kept on moving ahead. Today I can state with satisfaction that I have trained almost all the star sons and daughters. While I was struggling to establish myself, my mother died and thus with one stroke of destiny, I became elder overnight. Suddenly I felt that I am getting older too. On 17 December 2009, I celebrated my 57th birthday and on the same day the third phase of my life ended.
The Fourth Phase : 2010……….( Groping In The Dark )
This phase started in January 2010. I am again restless. I am feeling that I have already accomplished what I wished for me. Are there some new heights to scale ? Are there some other goals to hit ? Will there be some changes again in my life ? I don’t know . But one thing is certain; I am now elder and I am getting old. This makes me vulnerable. At this stage my flanks are open and they are without protection. Anyone can come and can say anything to me. Anyone can come and accuse me of anything and everything. And that to with impunity. Since I am elder and older, I am supposed to be magnanimous and forgiving. I can’t even answer back. It is inhuman tyranny, It’s a lonely journey, a very lonely journey.
My brothers are settled in life with their respective families. My sisters are also leading their own life after their marriage. We are not going to live under the same roof once again as we used to live during our childhood. All my elders are gone for their celestial journey. Barring few, all my childhood friends have drifted apart. They must be fighting their own battles. I don’t know where and how. Even if I bump into them, I shudder, I won’t recognize them. Some may be enjoying retired life after accomplishing every dream, every wish and desire and here I am, still fighting for my survival, still struggling for a new life. I have some friends left in Deoria but I have lost contacts with all my friends of Allahabad.
As I complete 57 tumultuous years and I am approaching 60th year of my life, a sense of loneliness grips me. At this juncture, I am again groping in the dark, with no vision in sight. The tragedy of being elder and getting older empowers and engulfs me completely and I am feeling very lonely in the winter of my life. May be I would be a trash bin lying in the neglected corner of a house.
Filed under: Memoirs