We often we equate old age with a second childhood. Like infants, the elderly also crave for love and care. Loneliness is one of the worst situations a person can suffer in the evening of his or her lives. Here, in Nedumangad, you get to see two such men spending their days caring and sharing for each other at the old age home run by the municipality. In fact, they are the sole inmates of the centre.
Bhanuvikraman Pillai, aged 94, starts speaking with an experience they had one day. “Power went off in the evening. We sat in the candle light and talked to each other for two hours until the power was back,” he says. Living in the limited comforts, he was all smiles while sharing it with us, because the scene was not this till two weeks ago. He was alone in the building for over a year, in rain and shine, until his ‘room-mate’, Appu, came.
“I had so many ‘friends’ once. All died here, and I was left alone,” says Pillai. According to Pillai, he has been here for the past 10 or 15 years.
Both Bhanuvikraman Pillai and C Appu have no happy stories to tell when asked about home and relatives.
Appu owned a petty shop in Nedumangad 35 years ago and sold everything he had for the treatment of his mother. Then, he worked in some hotels and restaurants in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam till he began to suffer from arthritis. “I have so many friends and it is they who advised me to apply to be accommodated here as I have none to take care of. They phone me every day,” says the 70-year-old, showing his mobile phone, presented by a friend three years ago. Some of them help him in recharging the phone.
Pillai did manual labour in his heyday. After coming here, for some years, he engaged himself in doing agriculture on the premises and later stopped it as his health turned bad. “Look, there I planted plantain and yam,” he points to a spot outside.
Both Pillai and Appu keep themselves updated by reading a newspaper provided for free by a newspaper agent nearby. Neither a television nor radio is available for entertainment. The woman who prepares food locks the gates from outside towards dusk and returns next morning with breakfast and this still continues.
There are two more rooms in the old age home which are kept locked, inside which are cluttered the used furniture of a closed-down lodge once run by the municipality. One more building on the premises remains unused in the absence of inmates.
Authorities say that until recently, only people from the municipality area were accommodated in the home as per rules and now a council decision has been made to allow people from other municipalities too. “We have received several applications and those aged above 60 will be admitted. A television set bought for the old age home will soon be installed with cable connection,” said Lekha Suresh, chairperson of Nedumangad municipality.
Meanwhile, the only two inmates say that even if anybody comes to take them away, they do not wish to go anywhere else. “I’ll be here until my death. Don’t call me, I will not come,” says Pillai firmly.