For Hansraj Vaid, 74, Father’s Day stopped having any significance three years ago when his son threw him out of his house. An autorickshaw driver, Vaid made his auto his shelter and lived right outside his residence in Nilothi Extension for three years.
Vaid’s auto was finally towed away and he was abandoned in an old age home in Rangpuri near Vasant Kunj, which was in news earlier this week due to its poor living conditions. Vaid still has his auto — probably the only thing that he can call his own. Sitting in his vehicle’s back seat, shirtless, with sagging skin hanging down, he reminisces about his childhood, when he was a naughty little child.
“I told my son to take me to a mechanic to get my auto’s brakes repaired. But he brought me to this old age home instead. Whenever he got into some trouble, I used to run from pillar to post to get him whatever he needed. Today, he just doesn’t care about me anymore and has left me here to die”. He says that his only wish now is to get his auto repaired and drive back home.
Vaid is one of the 175 fathers living in a shelter home run by NGO Earth Saviour Foundation that accommodates close to 300 residents, including destitute and abandoned patients.
In this rescue home, made of tin sheets where even a glass of drinking water is a luxury, parents often long for one proper sight of their children. Many, however, have lost all hope.
Shupan Krishnan Ganju, 63, has not seen his daughter in the last five years. He says that he cannot stay with his daughter because she is married and has her own family. Ganju, a psychology graduate from Srinagar, was left with no money after he invested all his savings with a realtor who later disappeared. Lying on his bed, Ganju waits for a call from his daughter every day.
“Once, my daughter almost came to meet me. She reached the nearby metro station, but turned back from there saying that she cannot see me living here in such conditions. I didn’t force her to come and she left without meeting me,” recalled Ganju.
At the shelter home, when the tin sheets start heating up, these abandoned parents turn to each other for shade and comfort.
Anuranjan Sharma, 67, who was bed-ridden when he came to the home, is on his feet now and looks after one of the five shelters at the home.
“People here who are physically fit are given a duty. Many times I take charge of rescue operations and take ambulance to different locations. It gives a sense of
confidence and belonging to me,” said Sharma, who had an export business before he was abandoned by his family after getting paralysed.
The residents at the home comprise engineers, lawyers and retired government officers. These fathers remember how they were proud to see their children doing better than them in their careers, achieving success in their lives. Veena Mehra, a caretaker at the home, shared the story of another resident — an IT professional in the US who was abandoned at AIIMS. “Eight years ago, while visiting his family, the 60-year-old had a paralytic attack and was admitted in AIIMS by his family. Later, nobody showed up to take him back though. He was dropped at the foundation by the hospital officials one year later,” she said. He was sent back to the US recently.
The NGO often counsels people staying at the shelter home to help them decide if they want to initiate legal action against their children for throwing them out, wrongfully possessing their property or even hitting them. Not one of them has ever gone ahead and filed a complaint though.
“In all the eight years that I have conducted counseling of these parents, not one of them has ever said anything bad against their children. They always want them to stay blessed instead,” said Earth Saviour Foundation founder Ravi Kalra.