From that day onward the story of my life changed absolutely.No more the listlessness.There was so much to do-planning,execution & the final starting of "SAHYOG" my anti-suicide helpline & counseling centre.I will not bore you with the details,but the whole venture has enriched me so profusely that i would like to share this aspect with you.
The maximum impact was on my state of mind.Gone was the diffident,shy,reclusive Indu.In her place was a new 'me',full of thrill,happiness,pride,self-confidence,self-worth,& satisfaction at doing a good job.I did not feel useless any longer.
The body too, was not to be left behind in soaking up the benefits accruing from this change.I felt fit & energetic.Gone were the aches & pains which troubled me earlier.Better appetite,better digestion & better stamina transpired automatically.
I learned many soft skills too.Relating to & empathizing with different kinds of people in myriad states of mind,coming from various strata & backgrounds was a new learning experience for me.At the administrative level there was the task of networking with the media & publicizing 'SAHYOG'.
When i came in touch with clients going through enormous stress & facing excruciating situations,i evolved as a person.I became more patient,understanding & forgiving in my own relationships.And THANKFULNESS, lots & lots of it.So many times was i forced to think "There,but for the grace of God,go i ".Those were sobering experiences.The whole trajectory of counseling was a two-way traffic--i benefited as much as my clients did.
My social circle expanded appreciably.I came in contact with many influential personalities of my city, & many people came to know & appreciate me.
Now that i look back at my life after SAHYOG,i wonder how could i have ever lived those years if this anchor had not held me in place.There comes a time in life when mundane matters are more or less settled.Living a day through & retaining your sense of worth becomes a daily challenge.You could term it the 'the empty nest syndrome' or maybe it has something to do with menopause-both male & female.But this much is true,that after middle age ,most people need to take stock of their lives & decide how to enrich them once again.Those who are unable to do so slip into a rut.For want of something to do,they could obsess about their health & see abnormalities where none exist.Depression & Dementia could be waiting in the wings to trap them.Many become cranky.hostile & quarrelsome because they are dissatisfied with their own place in the scheme of things.
My friend Kamini was on the verge of such a decline when she shook herself out of stupor & decided to do something about it .She took up her old hobby of sewing once again.Since she used to make her own & the kids' garments herself(this was before the craze for ready-made & branded clothes)she had many remnant pieces of cloth big & small.She decided to bring down this inventory to zero.She began to stitch frocks,vests,diapers & small sheets out of those materials & gave them to children of migrant laborers.Another friend Sumati,is fond of knitting.Seeing Kamini,she began to knit small pullovers & gave them to poor children.No longer were they bored with life.Can you imagine their sense of pride & joy when their handiwork went to warm tiny babies?Then there is this neighbor-a frail old lady.Her highlight of the day is putting out feed & water for birds.Then she sits by with a cup of tea,watching them hopping & pecking at the grains.She recounts happily to me,which birds fight a lot & which are gluttons.This is enough to motivate her to leave the bed & start the day.Currently she is into reading books on ornithology.
I think men have even a greater scope where choice of pastime is concerned.Hooking up with residents' welfare associations,religious organisations or philanthropic institutions is taken up by many to fill their empty hours.This throws them into the thick of things & they forget all about loneliness.
Learning the ropes to operate various gadgets coming up almost every day is also a very satisfying & pragmatic step forward.I remember when i first tried to grapple with the various functions of a TV remote(don't laugh please)i was flummoxed.But after i mastered it,i was able to graduate to more difficult lessons.There is no dearth of new technologies with which to exercise our brains today.As we senior citizens learn to operate a mobile,a computer,an i-pod, or the ATM;we experience a never-before exhilaration,a reassurance that all is not lost yet & the grey matter still works!Research shows that the more we attempt to master new skills,the less is the chance of us becoming a fuddy-duddy.It gives concrete benefits in addition to boosting our morale.
In nut-shell a healthy,happy life demands that we have a purpose in life.It is like oxygen for the mind.It does not matter if the purpose is big or small,self-oriented or philanthropic.The only condition is,that it should click with the person enough to drag him/her out of the armchair & provide gratification.All the time,energy & thought given to searching for such a goal is validated when the positive effects begin to show.Life suddenly takes on a pink hue.One forgets that one is past his/her prime.Drudgery & ennui are replaced by enthusiasm,confidence,cheerfulness,satisfaction & good health!