Friday, March 03, 2017

The Poor the Old and the Ugly

     
(these photos are merely representative, but closely representative actually)


So last MOnday I struggled to my halfway halt and had to embark a bus at about 7pm to get home. It was the wrong bus and would only get me half way there but it was late so I was desperate. I sat next to a dear elderly lady of, perhaps late sixties. In a while she told me worriedly that she was taking medications which made her sleepy and to please wake her if we came to the Galagedera bus halt. She pulled out a left leg, which looked like it was from a horror movie about leprosy and filaria combined and elaborated that she had these sores which had worsened over the years and there was a "germ in her body" for which she was taking medications for a long time. She described in some detail the appearance of the kind of pastules that she had had to suffer on her lower body, saying they looked like the "naval" in Kawum. I frankly did not want to know any of this and sat quite still. Then she started coughing, and with the bus starting up, I realised that each cough was coming my way with the wind from the window. She told me sadly that the medications she had been taking for months did not seem to be working. She had t o travel anyway, because she was a poor woman, and she sold fruits at some market place, so as to earn some money for the food. the bags of fruits left behind from Mondays sales, were collected around her oozing feet. 
Ok what would you have done?
personally I froze in a rictus of (hopefully irrational?) terror, tried not to breath much, but told her I would tell her the halt, and also continued to discuss her problem with her. Because you know, this could be you or me, too, except that we temporarily feel privileged and feel it wont happen to us. If you look at the statistics, it can happen to anyone.
Im a Buddhist. Buddhism works in the face of festering diseases, leprosy, filaria, AIDS, suffering starvation and old age. Because all that stuff about a powerful God who made a pretty world, tends to fall apart when you look at people like this. Is it because they prayed to the wrong God? Do you seriously mean to tell me there are no Christians or Muslims praying properly to the right God who do not have diseases and who do not face old age and feebleness?
Anyway here she was and there I was.
and the statistics are that one in every four people in Sri Lanka will be old, by 2040. 

Being old, if we go on neglecting our health, and not making plans for our future,
​our old age statistically speaking mostly ​
involves illness, feebleness, and often even NCDs such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and its complications, and worse, upto even paralysis.
​ ​ Poverty added to this, as well as an administrative structure which does not help the elderly at all is just about right to make such a future well nigh intolerable.
 
And Im ashamed to say that before she got down at Galagedera I got up and walked to the front of the bus, without helping her.

Because I didnt actually want her to brush too closely against me as she got down, and I didnt want to touch her bags, and I wanted nothing to do with her. 
Im sorry, but seriously I have enough problems of my own at the moment and I didnt need more, and I did not need to worry about having more.

Im average, that way. 
​Are you a better person?​




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