Everyone in this world has a story to tell and every little story is worth hearing. The whole universe itself is one big storehouse of incredible and fascinating fables that are powerful enough to give you different insights on life.
On my pursuit of collecting such stories, I met a lady who was a warden in an old age home in Thiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu, run by the NGO where I am working as a fellow.
The mere sight of this home reminds you of the serenity nature provides. Surrounded by lush green trees with its generous breeze, incessant quacking from the swans running around, the farmlands bordering the backyards, the unceasing chatter of the children from the nearby school, all making a serene living space for the souls that were abandoned by their loved ones.
Selvarani, the warden of the home, has been managing these elders and taking care of their needs for more than eight years now. Her days as a family counsellor in a rehabilitation centre motivated her to choose a path of service which provides her with unexplained satisfaction and contentment in life.
It made more sense to her to spend rest of her days serving the needs of those who require it rather than settling down in the popular holy matrimony.
People may call her good-hearted or foretell her spot in heaven for her unconditional service, but she alone knows the trials and tribulations she underwent to choose the life that she wanted.
She calls herself a silent rebel, who from her childhood did things that her village people considered taboo or “un-womanly”. She recalls an incident at the age of ten when she rode her first bicycle. Being born and brought up in a conservative rural backdrop, a girl riding a bicycle in earlier times was considered a rebellious act.
But she chose to be different and did things that always felt right and it gave her happiness.
Even when her parents were against her wish to dedicate her life to service or stay unmarried for the purpose of serving, she stayed strong and chose what she felt was right. The life at the old age home opened her eyes towards the vast horizons and the minds of the millennium, which prefer nuclear families and consider looking after the parents a burden.
Working as a counsellor in a rehabilitation centre paved the way to understand more about the human psyche and what is to be needed to make their life less miserable. And she knew the answer would be a kindness.
Being a warden is equally difficult as a family counsellor and there are days when she experiences intense trauma and stress. Even hoping for a
good sleep at night is a distant dream as there are instances when she wakes up in the middle of the night due to the wailing of an inmate who misses her loved ones or an elderly man trying to break the door to escape and see his grand-kids, who doesn’t even know his existence.
Some of the inmates prefer to stay alone, not talking or responding to her commands. Their silence troubles her when she thinks about her inability to help them out. But there are also instances when she feels herself losing her cool when they intentionally annoy her by repeating sentences and doing things that she asks them not to do.
But she knows how a mind works at old age. Selvarani says, “When a person gets old, their mind starts reprising incidents and people that they would have met decades back or even during their childhood. It starts digging out incidents that were once close to their heart and they start telling those to the people around. But people who are not aware of this consider them to be a lunatic with a mental disorder, and put them in homes”.
When they annoy her she reminds herself that they don’t do it deliberately, which pushes her to show much more love towards them.
Selvarani’s story gave me one powerful insight on how a person can fight against all odds, to choose a path that gives her happiness. For her, the real joy is being with people who really need her and be a loving, caring daughter to the number of fathers and mothers who were forsaken by their own kindred. As a woman, she is an inspiring individual who tried and succeeded in breaking the norms of the society that rebuked at her choices.
Her chronicles surely act as a beacon for anyone who would wish to bring change in others life and mobilize their own energy towards a greater cause. She is a powerful source of wisdom through whom I learned the smallest discernment’s in life.
For life is all about living the moment, nurturing, loving and caring the fellow being without expecting anything in return. Because happiness opens its door when expectation halts.