I’d like to share a recent incident that shook me a bit, and got me thinking.
A few days back, my mother called me up, requesting for some urgent financial help. The amount in question was not much. Yet, she insisted that I discuss this with my husband, and seek his ‘approval’, before wiring the money. For a second, I was taken aback. A mixed bag of emotions, from anger to inadequacy, had crept in & it was hard for me to continue the conversation
My husband, on overhearing this, the gentleman that he is, offered to take over the conversation. He reassured my mother, that her daughter did not need his ‘permission’, for spending the money that was hard earned by her. He further added, that had he been in my place, he would have ‘informed’, and even ‘discussed’ this issue with me, but not sought my ‘approval’, and the rules should be no different for me.
I wondered why my mother, a fiercely independent woman who worked till her sixties, would say such a thing?
The Bombay High Court recently came out with an order stating that married daughters are obligated to take care of their parents. Section 125(1)(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, gives courts the right to compel someone to maintain their parents provided that they have sufficient means to do so.
The High Court order is a welcome verdict. It puts the daughters on an even keel with sons as far as financial responsibilities towards parents are concerned. It tells the society that women have as much right to take care of their elderly parents, as men.
Yes, I know the contours of our society will take its time to change, but steps like these are needed. And it is important for married couples, or even couples in a relationship, to openly talk about their financial obligations, if any, towards their parents, family and the like. I am hopeful of the day when the High Court order is understood by the youth of this country, in both letter and spirit.
That said, does taking care of one’s parents end with a financial obligation. Being a part of Urban Company, I have used the app a number of times to book services for my folks back in Bangalore, be it carpentry, yoga services or home cleaning.
I was curious to do some research and understand cases of other women, like me, who’ve used the app to help their elderly parents in other cities. I spoke to three such customers, and was able to capture their thoughts on the verdict, and services they have tried –
Thoughts on the verdict
Ms. Vandana Puri shares “I don’t really need a court order to tell me I can take care of my parents. I married my husband ten years back and moved to Bangalore from Delhi. My elder brother stays in California with his family and can’t visit often because it would be really expensive. I help out because I want to and can.”
But what can a woman do if she is married and living far off in a different city? It is not only through financial help that one can take care of parents. What if aged parents need help in day to day life? From simple things as getting the AC repaired or the bathroom tap to function properly?
She adds “I can’t be there with my parents physically all the time so I pre-pay any service they need. They were very happy with the home cleaning service that I had booked last week.”
Rising Crime Rates – A Concern
With rising cases of crime against the aged, isn’t safety a concern too?
Mrs. Chahat Gaur, recently had a CCTV installed through UrbanClap at her parent’s house. She says “My parents raised me and my sister and helped us become as successful as we are. They watched over us every minute of our life. Now that they are old, we can literally watch over them with the help of a CCTV camera installed through UrbanClap!”
Taking Care of the Elderly – It doesn’t stop at finances
Another customer, Ms. Abha Sharma shares her thoughts on the ruling “The courts can’t really tell you to care for your parents right? My father is extremely proud and does not like to depend on me or my brother financially. A couple of months back, he was diagnosed with severe arthritis and could not do much. All I did was book a physiotherapist from Urban Company and he is already feeling a lot better! While a major part of taking care of your parents is the financial help you can give, but these small things can matter more sometimes.”
Most parents have an innate pride. It shows its first signs when their child is born. Whenever I ask my mom how she raised two kids, despite the hardships that life threw at her, she laughs and says “It was my duty”. Doesn’t it then become our duty to return the favor, and what does our gender have to do with that?
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