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‘Leaving’ together

Such a departure is a boon that many an elderly couple will crave for, after having been together in matrimony.

‘Living together’, a controversial concept propounded and practised by a few maverick young men and women to live with detached attachment, without any of the shackles of matrimony, seems to be catching on. But ‘leaving together’ is the flip side of the coin. This will be a boon that many an elderly couple will crave for, after having been united in wedlock and weathering many storms and turbulences.

The joint family system of yore is no longer in vogue, except in rare cases. In tandem with the single-child syndrome that had begun to show its repercussions, many of the senior citizens, living with their only son or daughter, or in a sanctuary for senior citizens, sooner or later begin to nurse a nameless fear of what will be in store in the last reel of life for the surviving spouse who will miss the care and companionship of the erstwhile soulmate.

This would be a long-term tormentor, except in some cases where one is sportingly prepared to remain single, whatever the future may have in store. Que sera sera, and all that. Some do take it in their stride with a pinch of salt. My ninety-plus aunt, a widow, who lives alone, away from her tyrannical son and daughter-in-law, quips now and again wryly: “It seems Yama’s accountant Chitragupta has lost my folio!”

My mentor, a retired history professor, delved into the matter of leaving together when that topic figured in our conversational ramble. “Like a bottle or a blister pack of tablets that come mandatorily with the date of expiry,” he said, “God has not chosen to let human beings know their dates of departure from earth. Indeed, such Ignorance is bliss. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. Where ignorance is bliss, it’s folly to be wise.”

His wife, a picture of marital bliss, added: “Maybe such a date of exit is inscribed by the creator on our heads, but like the lipi cannot be transcribed. Rather need not be transcribed. Falling back on mythology, if the men can decide their date of exit from this world like Bhishma, a boon that was granted to him, some women may also prefer to drop dead like Kopperundevi, queen of the Pandiyan king, when he collapsed lifeless, stunned by the realisation of the cruel injustice he meted out to the Kovalan-Kannagi duo.”

Many agree with the premise that it is easier for the wife to pull on for years after the death of her husband. But the reverse need not be true since a man typically depends on his wife’s care and share more than she would on him.

A banker friend of mine says their marriage is an ideal one, though his wife is visually challenged and he is now hearing impaired! A stickler for organising things, he is methodical to a fault. His wife told me several times how lucky she was to have a hubby like him.

Incredible as it may seem, this ace planner, besides drawing up his will, had even prepared the list of relatives, friends and such with their addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail ids that his grieving wife would find handy to break the news, in case he dies all of a sudden. But inscrutable are the ways of God, who has his own plans. She died all of a sudden in her sleep, leaving the great planner in the lurch.

writerjsr@gmail.com

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 9:55:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/%E2%80%98Leaving%E2%80%99-together/article14558798.ece

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