Human Beasts of Burden – the middle class
Are the Indian middle-class parents compulsive load-bearing animals? It seems so they are.
I am addressing people of our age group who are now anywhere between 60 to 80 years of age. I am one of them. We have the unique capacity to discover burdens out of nowhere, lift them on our heads, and carry them. Without a load on our heads, we feel uncomfortable.
We never enjoyed our young days – living a carefree life. We worked hard to secure a good job. Once we found employment, we saved most of our income to help our dad finance our
Sister’s marriage. After the sister was given away in marriage, we found the opportunity to get married. But we could not go on a honeymoon because no money was left after getting the sister married.
We slogged and slogged to impart the best possible education to our sons and daughters impartially. After they picked up qualifications, we also had to finance our daughters’ “Big
Fat Indian Marriage.” Finally, we left no stone unturned to send our sons abroad for higher education. Foreign education is expensive. Obviously, we never had that kind of money. Recklessly, we take out a “Study Loan.” from our bank at a very high-interest rate. When the time comes to pay back the instalments for the education loan, most affectionately, we accept that burden too.
Our wives have a penchant for collecting gold. We live a frugal life to build a decent stock of gold ornaments over many years for our daughters and daughters-in-law. But alas! They do not like to wear those old-fashioned heavy ornaments anymore. Instead, they want light-weight artificial jewellery, which is in vogue. Our efforts go unrecognised.
Our sons stay back abroad after completing their studies and settling down. Back in India, we endured untold hardship to build houses catering to our son’s separate room/floor. We hope, someday, he will come back to live with us. But the sons who settle abroad show no interest in staying in India. In our old age, we struggle to maintain property till we die. Even to ispose of our property after our demise, the sons from abroad find it very hard to get time to come to India for some time.
The children who cannot migrate overseas grudgingly give us shelter in the corner of the home we built. But who has time and patience to hear the old stories of our past life? TV
Channels give us company.
When everything in life is done and settled unnecessarily, we locate another point to worry about. It is usually our grandchildren’s future. But we hardly understand them; on the other hand, they think we are too out-dated. We try to please them by giving expensive gifts. They accept the goodies but do not reciprocate with a hug or kiss. In our hearts of hearts, we die to enjoy their affection.
We are the parents of successful, upwardly-mobile sons. The final days of our lives would probably be spent in Old Age Homes or under the care of irresponsible and cruel nurses who
Care only for their salary. The children would clear their conscience by paying for the Old Age Homes or Nurses. We would silently fade out unheard and unsung. Life will go on.
We are the only the generation that obeyed the previous generation unquestioningly. But blinded by the love, we follow the orders of the next generation, too. In another 20 to 25 years, our species will be extinct from the face of the earth, never to resurrect again.
Let someone erect an epitaph that will read, “Middle Class (1940 – 2040). Here lies the soul of the gentle and affectionate middle-class. It is finally resting in peace. But, unfortunately, the stupid but selfless middle class chose to live a miserable life to make the next generation happy and prosperous.”