After years of constant persuasion, last year my mum finally decided to to visit us in Australia for a few months. Coming from a small town in northern India, she had only seen that part of the world and like any other person from the mountains, her life had been very simple and self-sufficient.
The moment she landed, I felt a strange sense of pride as I saw her walk on a land far from her known territories, something she had never imagined, let alone desired. My daughters excitedly skipped beside her, explaining everything, from the automatic tap at the airport to the accent of the people around us, and other tiny wonders on the way home like the wooden homes without brick walls inside, boundary-less compounds and pedestrian traffic lights, all of which left her astonished.
In the days to come, everything was a delight as she wondered at the much larger size of the fruits and vegetables in the local grocery store, the bottled milk that we could pour directly into glasses without having to boil, every small thing brought her inquisitiveness out. She was very surprised about the fact that people here came home only when invited.
She continuously missed our live-in housekeeper in India as she saw us cooking our own meals, cleaning our own dishes and wiping floors. She did love the fact though that all of us could be home with her each evening, to have tea together, a rarity as me and my husband could barely made home by dinner time in India.
As a mix of such surprises continued to unfold for her, I saw amazing changes in this beautifully wrinkled old woman, my mother, who has been the strength of our family, my father’s best friend until his last day and a forever-strong woman who was always on top of everything in her life. My definition of who she was changed so much. I felt that I had not seen her face closely for a while. All I could see in her today was a bubbly kid whose eyes twinkled at every new thing and who tried to learn how this world was different from the world she was a part of back in India. She was now the youngest kid in the family and all of us, including my daughters, tried to satisfy her curiosity as best as we can.
The months that followed included her first ever amusement park ride, clicking selfies and some adventurous road trips. Then it was time for me to introduce her to something completelynew… something that could expand her horizons… the world of internet!
I bought a smartphone for her and spent two days convincing that it was an old phone lying unused (she would have refused to take it otherwise). I then opened her Facebook account and showed her how to send friend requests to myself and her other two children so that she could see what was happening in their lives. She slowly started enjoying her online connection with them and I nudged her to send friend requests to her own siblings and their children. This opened up a whole world of possibilities for her: talking to my father’s relatives whom she had not met in 18 years, seeing her grown-up niece and nephews, chatting with her neighbours and friends in India and connecting with her childhood friends – it was pure MAGIC!
Every day, after finishing her morning regime of chores and prayers, she would sit in the backyard, with her phone in her hands, playing with this new toy called Facebook. Like an obedient student, she would adhere to all the cyber security instructions that I had given her as a newbie in the internet world. When I came back from work in the evenings, she would hand me her phone to check whether she had correctly sent and received friend requests. I patiently worked with her enthusiasm as I deleted the typos that she had made in comment sections across Facebook. There were both funny and exasperating moments; once she accidentally commented a smiley face on a post which mentioned that an uncle had died. Several times, she posted messages meant for one person on the wall of another person. Her excitement was evident and so, I didn’t mind all the corrections that I had to go through in the evening.
Soon it was time for her to return to India. As she delicately bundled up her new learnings to be taken home, Facebook topped the list. She soon advanced in her use, moving from phrases like “good”, “nice”, “thanks” to typing full sentences. She started reading news on Facebook, learning new recipes and even taking part in competitions. She still enthusiastically connects me to her local community and family groups (lest I lose the touch with my roots). While I’m sitting on this side of the world, it’s a delight to see her exploring new things. There are still funny, burst-out-laughing moments, when one of us has to rush to change some words on her posts, but it’s a new and pure joy to see her connected to the world through her little Facebook window.
Introducing my mum to this world has been my most satisfying experience recently. It feels as if I have nurtured another child.
We sometimes get so busy growing up that we don’t realise when our parents become kids again, and the child in them yearns for new experiences. I urge you to take the time to see that child and take them on unexplored journeys, destinations and experiences. The satisfaction you will get will be unparalleled and this will definitely move a few chords in your hearts.
And if a 75-year-old can do so well in unexplored territories, why can’t we? Jump into terrains never visited, explore the unseen and expand your world of knowledge.
Fear is not a reason, curiosity is!!!