A Zoomed Introspection Of Trupti Kitchen

by | Aug 30, 2022

Respecting senior citizens and giving them the utmost priority and position in any household has always been an integral aspect of Indian culture. However, today, as a community, we have failed to uphold this custom. More and more cases of senior citizens being considered a burden by their own kin have been surfacing in recent times.

In my previous blog, I talked about MANAVLOK’s Trupti Kitchen program, where we provide two times meals to senior citizens who are above 65 years of age. The program runs with a participatory approach and has supported the elderly for the past seven years. The program was designed to cater to the needs of the elderly who had no support from the community. However, there’s another side too! The program has undoubtedly instilled a sense of responsibility within a smaller section of society.

Yet, there is a large segment of this community who is not ready to take up their responsibilities and have left their parents at the behest of MANAVLOK. As an integral part of the program, we survey our community to keep a check on their needs. While surveying, we came across many instances where people of the villages came forward and requested us to enroll their parents in the program. The number of such people is increasing day by day. A minor disagreement between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law over food leads to quarrels in the family, escalating to disowning of their parents.

Rasheeda* (mother-in-law) and Afreen* (daughter-in-law)

Due to such petty issues, Rashida herself decided to move out of her son’s house and settled in a different place. Like Rashida, many people mistook the community kitchen program for a scheme launched by the government. They failed to realize the intricacies of the program. Rahul*, a 35-year-old man has left his home in search of money and has moved to Nashik with his wife. He left his parents and his daughter in the village without providing financial support to them. 

Similar to the case of Anusiya bai, many people have abandoned their children as well as their parents and have moved to far-off places. On the contrary, there are instances where children move to cities for employment but they do take care of their parents. I have often heard and witnessed the hospitalities of the villagers. When working on fields, there hasn’t been a single instance where I wasn’t offered lunch. The villagers treat us with immense warmth and kindness in their hearts. And this pattern is similar across all the states I have been to.  

It is puzzling! Villagers are incredibly kind and loving to a stranger but they abandon their parents and leave them suffering. It is unfathomable, how come petty issues within the family can lead to such extreme cases. The scenarios are quite different in an urban and rural environment. While in an urban setup, we have the privilege to hire a caretaker for our parents but in a rural setup, the chances are thin. Within the program, we have three different categories of participants:-

  1. Extremely needy, poor, and have no family to support
  2. Have a source of income. But, since their family has moved to a different location, they do not have anyone to cook for them or look after them
  3. Have a family. But due to trivial family issues, the senior citizens themselves have moved out of the house
Picture of the location where one of the participants enrolled with Trupti Kitchen stays

When the program was designed, the target audience was people in need of assistance. But how do we define need? Who is needier than whom? How do we define that? Is the one with no money and no family? or, is it the one who moved out of the house themselves to avoid daily bickering? Although the latter looks less needful. But the issues that look smaller today could become the biggest issue of tomorrow. These fights and indifferences, if kept unchecked could lead to domestic abuse in the future and in certain extreme cases of homicide as well. Overlooking these minimal problems today is also not an option.

There is another problem emerging through this. More and more people are being dependent on MANAVLOK and are not taking responsibility for their parents. Being a not-for-profit NGO, MANAVLOK has its limitations. Even if we try our best to extend our helping hands to the maximum extent, we would be missing out on a good percentage of the disadvantaged population. Both problems are critical. How do you put someone’s problems at a higher priority than others? There is this constant dilemma hanging with us, and there is no straight road to resolving this.

*Names changed to protect the individual’s identity

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