Maa, Amma, Mummy — Madhuri Mishra’s not-so-young children address her by several names. In turn, she calls her 60- to 92-year-olds ‘Chottu’, ‘Munni’ and ‘Rani’.
At least 35 elderly, all dejected by their relatives, are living under the care of Mishra at Apnaghar, an old age home in Bhopal. From bathing them to feeding them, 52-year-old Mishra takes care of all her 35 ‘children’ just like a mother and ensures that none of them miss their medicine or regular outings.
“Just like a six-month-old needs a mother, they cling to me. I cannot leave them alone. I live with them in the same house…(and now) the idea of being away from them scares me,” Mishra told HT.
Some of the inmates of Apnaghar have been left by their children, while a few others have been brought in by Mishra and her family members.
“One day my younger daughter spotted a septuagenarian being troubled by some rag pickers in New Market area and brought him home. Atmaram Phadke, 78, initially did not talk to anyone. Slowly we discovered he is a fabulous flautist and is now our favourite ‘Chottu’,” Mishra said, adding that several inmates of Apnaghar took to poetry, singing and writing over the years.
“If you give them little attention, they will love and pamper you…My daughters say they are lucky to have so many grandparents, while I say I am happy to mother so many children,” she said.