Old eyes, old memories, old beliefs but with a new twist- hope and cheer. That’s what the aged at the Ishaprem Niketan in Rasta Peth have. When I was supposed to visit the old age home for a story, I had imagined gloomy faces with innumerable sad stories to tell. But when I entered the premises, smiling faces with warmness surrounding them greeted me.
All the inmates were happy to see me and greeted me with enthusiasm. Immediately, they introduced themselves to me, telling me all about their life, what they had achieved so far and so on. They had so much to tell. One person, Chandrakant Golvalkar, who has acted as a side artist in a couple of movies, showed me his I-card and told me about his encounters with some famous actors. Another inmate, Bernanrd Lobo, remembers all the important dates and events in his life, even at the age of 75.
The ladies were a more enthusiastic bunch. Julie Jantas, a 62-year-old woman, loves to dance and she welcomed us by dancing. Any nice number plays on the television and Jantas breaks into a jig. She told me that when she was at home she didn’t have such kind of freedom, but here anything she does is welcomed. Another lady, Shanta Bhandari, kissed me on my cheeks, calling me her grandchild and told me that these people take her visiting gardens or to the circus, luxuries she otherwise wouldn’t have thought of getting.
They help each other- feeding each other, giving medication to the terminally ill and talking each other for a walk. An NGO called Nishkaam took them out on a picnic to Mulshi on Father’s Day, about which they were super-excited.
Looking at these cheerful inmates of the old age home, I thought all my worries had just flown away. We all have a lot to learn from them- including not losing hope, remaining cheerful come what may and keeping the child in you alive. For the inmates of the Ishaprem Niketan, life is beautiful, eventhough dusk has set in.