Ab ke baras bhej bhaiyya ko, babul
Savan mein leejo bulaaye re …
This soulful rendering by Asha Bhonsle, from the movie ‘Bandini’, crooning from the radio yesterday afternoon, took me back to a bygone era. Girls growing up happily in their maternal home, are married off as soon as they attain youth. Living in a distant place, separated from their beloved parents and siblings, they yearn for the happy times they spent with them during their childhood. It is customary that someone from the maternal home – usually the brother, brings her from in-laws home for her to spend some time at her maternal home during festivals and special occasions. Also it is the brother’s duty to drop her back. The above song is about a daughter pleading to her father to send her brother, so that she can visit them and relive the happy moments she spent during the month of Shraavan or Saavan. The month of Shraavan also brings in the festival that celebrates the bond of brother and sister, Raksha Bandhan.
In today’s times, this custom is rarely followed for entirely practical reasons and girls are independent enough to make the visit themselves. But then, what actually struck me is even if the daughter pleads something like this to her father, who would be there to fetch her? The brother(s) no longer live(s) with them. The joint family set up has been broken up since long. The parents are practically living alone.
Today, as I walk down on familiar roads, I look up at those independent structures that were once filled with voices of school going and/or college going kids, their fathers getting the vehicles ready to drop them at school and the mothers hurriedly handing them their lunch bags. Today, those buildings have quietened down. The parents had painstakingly planned and built those houses so that their children could live comfortably. But their children left to take up jobs and settle down in a different city and in most cases, in a different country. It is the same story for parents living in apartments.
With times, many things have changed. Gone are the days when children would seek jobs in the same town or city. Now they are willing to move to any place where they get a better job with better prospects. Limiting their preference just to their home town would be a hindrance to their growth in careers. Of course, they can’t be deemed to be selfish. They do want their parents to come along and live with them. But given the financial and logistic limitations, the parents prefer to stay back. After all, this was a house they had planned to settle down in, after retirement. Tagging along with their children, shifting from place to place at this age, is clearly not on their agenda.
But then, age does catch up and slows down their activities. How they wish they had someone to drive them up to the doctor’s or to the nearby park, to the temple, to a friend’s place or to attend a function. How they wish they had someone to whom they could talk with, share their life’s experiences and what they learnt from them. How they wish they could teach stories and songs to their grandchildren and help them get acquainted with family traditions. How they wish they had someone, whom they could send on an errand, or who could convey a message to a neighbour or who could get those repairs mended that pop up in and around the house time and again. Or maybe, someone who could bring home the daughter to spend some more happy moments with her again.
My write up is not a complaint. It’s not a complaint against the children who have left their parents to chase jobs. It is the need of the time. It is a competitive world out there and they need to go to wherever their work takes them. It is not a complaint against the parents for not going along with their kids. It is hard for them to adapt to changing lifestyles.
They do visit for short periods – sometimes for 10 days, or two weeks, or a month or two. Many activities are planned during that short visit and the time runs fast in the hustling and bustling. And then, it’s all quiet again. Only, some more treasured memories get added to their memory bank. Memories that are precious for both, the parents and the children. And then, the time seems to go slow once more, till they visit again next year or two years later or probably more.
So, in today’s time, it is not the daughter, but the parents themselves, yearning for their sons and daughters to be back, so they can spend some more happy moments with them.
Ab ke baras bhej bachchon ko, Bhagwan
Thaki hui aankhen unhe bulaaye re …
(This year send the children, dear God
The tired eyes are calling out to them)
The original song that I had heard: