It is often lamented that the joint family system is on the way out. But the concept manifests itself in subtle forms as per modern day needs of families in which both spouses work.
A colleague’s married and employed daughter was in Nagpur and was blessed with a baby. She could not manage her job and take care of the baby without assistance from her parents. My colleague took voluntary retirement, locked his house, took a rented house near his daughter’s house in Nagpur to take care of the baby. He came back to his own house once in a year to clean it and pay taxes.
After a decade, he returned to his own house after the grandchild had reached an age when she could manage herself.
Another friend was shuttling between Chennai and Bangalore to take care of his grandchildren. His daughter recently relocated to Chennai and started living at a location closest to the kids’ school. Now, the friend spends the weekdays at his daughter’s house and comes to his own house on weekends when his daughter and son-in-law remain at home to take care of their kids.
An elderly acquaintance of mine lives with his son to look after the grandchildren when they come back from school, since the son and daughter-in-law go to work. His wife stays with their daughter to look after the grandchildren, because the daughter is employed. The husband and wife see each other on some festive occasions only. In their twilight years, they are denied the pleasure of living together by their own children.
My neighbour has two married daughters working in two cities in the US. He spends six months every year in the US, three months each with either daughter with the blessings of US immigration. He says he is bored living alone in India and looks forward to his next visit to the US every year. His wife prepares sweets, savouries, sambar or rasam powder and mango pickles. He has bought a packing machine to pack edible items in spill-proof covers.
He lands in one daughter’s place and sends all the goodies by courier to the other daughter. He has hired a night watchman to guard his house for six months while he is away in the US. He hands over his car and scooter to a friend to keep them in running condition so that the battery and the air pressure in tyres do not recede. He keeps his telephone in safe custody mode and pays electricity charges for six months in advance. When he returns after six months, he refurbishes his empty nest and settles all outstanding bills. And so the cycle goes on.