By Preeti Jatia
My parents live in Pune and we are three sisters, married and living in different cities in India and overseas. My father is 78 years old and my mother is 72. In India, as in most countries in the world, custom dictates that when daughters marry, they leave their parental homes and move to their husbands’ residence. This often comes with moving cities or even countries.
Though sons too these days leave home for greener pastures and for better career opportunities, the position of parents with daughters is particularly poignant, as the option to move in with their daughters is limited in most cases due to traditional relationship norms. Over the years I have realised that this creates an uncomfortable vacuum that’s hard to fill: such parents are left alone and lonely.
As the eldest of three siblings, I find my parents often feeling isolated even though they are in a ‘happy space’ in their lives and abode. I call it happy because I see them so familiar with their comfort zone, but I can see they are lonely too as they no longer have the family they used to before we all went our ways.
In my growing years I remember being taught that there was no difference between a girl and a boy; we were raised to be independent girls. Before the coronavirus lockdown began in March, we all made it a point to visit our parents regularly and, thanks to our supportive husbands, we could take care of their regular medical check-ups and all other needs. We would also be able to spend good quality time with them. It was perfect as they got their space as well as the opportunity to see one of us at least once in two weeks.
Ever since the lockdown started, we haven’t been able to visit them. No matter how many video calls we make, it’s just not the same. They’ve definitely become lonelier, and seeing this makes me really anxious and unhappy.
I began speaking to friends and family about this, and soon I realised there are so many daughters who relate to me. What happens to the parents of daughters who don’t have a son or their son is away for work and their parents don’t want to leave their happy space and move out of their comfort zone?
As parents grow old, they need emotional and physical support. Such stories of similar situations gave rise to my new initiative, Daughters Have Parents Too.
So how can you be part of it?
All of us live in apartment buildings, neighbourhoods, sectors, societies or independent bungalows, where I am sure we can identify one or more senior citizens, single or a couple, living alone in their homes; maybe a neighbour living up your lane.
All we need to do is spend as little as five minutes with them occasionally. Just ask them if they are doing well, if they need some groceries, medicines, technical support with their gadgets, or any other form of help. Assure them of your help and availability during any medical emergencies. Let them know you know you are here for them, just like their children who are miles away may be taking care of someone else in their own neighbourhoods.
This initiative is not about money, it’s about time, an act of kindness that will help us and them. Imagine the impact this can have on so many elderly folk living alone around us if we could all do this for one senior citizen each.
Let’s do this for all those daughters who miss their parents and the opportunity to look after them, daughters who have parents too!
We would love to hear your views on this initiative, along with the story of your journey as a daughter. You can send us your videos, stories and pictures on Instagram at @DaughtersHaveParentsToo or just tag us when you post it on your own account: #DaughtersHaveParentsToo #DHPT
Share your ideas on how you can make a huge difference in a small way! Let’s make a change together.
Preeti Jatia is the Noida-based founder of kidswear label Fayon Kids
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