“Pappa knows best”

Pappa knows best!

“School is good” said Pappa, on my first day of kindergarten. There I was, dressed up in crisp new uniform with ribbons in my hair, a new school bag on my shoulders and wearing a pair of polished black shoes. I might have been looking forward to it, until I was dropped off at the school-ground amongst all those screaming children. It was not too long after that I joined the bandwagon. It is still fresh in mind how I just could not believe that I was abandoned by my dear Pappa amidst strangers. It took me several days of the same exercise to repeat before I trusted that he will come back to pick me once the school is over! Once I got used to the routine, I agreed with him – school is indeed good!

“Computers are good” – advised Pappa after I completed my year 10, and enrolled me for a computer course. I thought it was a sheer waste of my time, given most people in Kerala did not know how to open an e-mail account, let alone own a PC. And I was in this fancy new building learning about Microsoft Office, that I had no clue what those would be used for (I may sound like I lived in the dinosaur’s era, but this was really not too long ago!). Years later, as computers became an inevitable household item, I could draw on what I was taught long back, giving me an edge over the people around me. And I realised – computers are good for sure!

So many similar anecdotes.

Like when he admitted me to a college where the best students in the state came to, I felt like I was totally lost amongst all that talent. I was proved wrong once again. This college gave me an amazing exposure to the world outside our little town, pushed me out of my comfort zone, taught me to swim against the tide, and provided me the foundation of life skills that I built my life on.

Throughout my life, he has surprised me with so many suggestions which would totally ground me first and then as I go through the experience of enjoying those, I end up agreeing with him.

Well, coming to the point, in the recent past, he said to me “Retirement homes are good”. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I shockingly realised that there is this conservative in me who was refusing to take in what he just said. (Well, I always thought that I was very advanced when it comes to thoughts). He said that he is a board member of Soukhya homes, a community living initiative for senior citizens. I kept living a life of denial until 2020 when the pandemic struck and everyone was socially distanced, and we had lots of restrictions on what to do and more importantly, what not to.

My parents were pretty upset about things initially, as the whole world was. Gradually, they took it with a pinch of salt, and what really helped them along the way was this community spirit and companionship they created within the senior citizen group involved with the retirement home – a bunch of enthusiastic, spirited retired professionals who could communicate which each other well. I recollect being asked by a friend’s mom once, which might resonate with what many elderly parents experience after retirement – “I live alone in a big house, and I do have a domestic help to assist me. But we don’t have much in common to communicate about. What do we talk to each other the whole day – we are in two different intellectual zones!”

That’s where this group was helping my parents. They attend Yoga classes together, they celebrate birthdays and festivals together, yet there’s the privacy of the separate villas which assists them maintain their individualities. There is a chef there, which means that their food is taken care if they stay there. There are medical services available. A fruit garden, beautiful walkways, fitness centre, library and reading room, and a care taker onsite –   after a busy career, I am so glad they are slowly relaxing and experiencing quality living amongst their friends. Above all, I am sure they are in good company!

Surely, I am realising – my Pappa is right once again in thinking ahead!!

Soukhya homes – http://soukhyahomes.com/

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