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May 15, 2012

Old-aged parents living alone


Dear Asad,Old Aged Parents Living Alone

I am a 35 years old man living in UK for the past 10 years. I am originally from Pakistan where my parents are settled. I have two siblings, both of whom are married and settled outside Pakistan. My parents are quite old and live alone in Karachi, Pakistan. They visit me or my siblings once a year for a month or so. My siblings and I have asked them repeatedly to permanently shift with us and leave Pakistan but they don’t agree to that. They don’t want to leave Pakistan for good. They reason they give is that Pakistan is their country; it’s where they have their roots, relatives, friends, acquaintances, etc. It’s where they were born, grew up and always lived. They say they simply can’t imagine living outside Pakistan permanently and that too at this age.

As you can understand this has led to a lot of consternation for me and my siblings. The increasing crime rate in Karachi, the poor infrastructure, the disintegration of basic services and many other problems associated with that city makes us worry all the more for the safety and well-being of our parents. We are all constantly thinking of them and worrying about how they are coping there all alone in their old age. We have kept maids and servants to look after them but are constantly worried about the reliability of these domestic staff as they are often shocking stories in the media of the crimes that these people sometimes commit.

I earn quite handsomely in UK and have a good life here. As I am still a bachelor, I am thinking of now returning to Karachi and live with my parents there. I know I will be able to find a good job there. But I like UK very much and I have gotten used to the high standard of life here. I feel shifting back to Karachi would be a stressful and chaotic experience for me as nothing over there is going right at the moment.

Worried Son

Dear Worried Son,

I get many letters from people who are settled abroad and have old-aged parents living alone in their home countries who do not want to leave their motherland for one reason or the other. Therefore I can well understand your predicament. The way things are going on in Pakistan these days, especially Karachi, it becomes very stressful for people who live abroad to regularly come across news that highlights that their loved ones are not safe back home. Add to this the fact that your parents live completely alone without having any of their children with them.

I also understand their point of view. It really is quite difficult at their age to leave their country for good and settle abroad. The feeling of uprooting from their birth place and settling in a foreign country at their age would be a highly stressful and even traumatic experience for them, no matter how good the quality of life would be for them abroad.

You and your siblings are doing well that you have tried to make their life easy by keeping servants and maids for them. This must be helpful for them to an extent as they have someone to look after their needs. But I am sure you would agree, servants can’t ever take the place of one’s own children.

You mentioned that you would be able to find a good job in Pakistan quite easily. And as you have also mentioned that you are still a bachelor, this means you have no familial ties in UK. Thus I would urge you to seriously consider moving back to Karachi for your parents sake. You owe them that much. They won’t obviously ask you to do that because all parents want their children to have a bright future and be successful and happy in life, even if it means living away from them. But deep down inside, mostly all such parents yearn for their children and miss them terribly and would rather have them live with them than be alone.

I agree that life for you won’t be as comfortable and stress-free in Pakistan as it is in UK but think of the happiness and joy that you would be bringing in your parent’s life. They will be very happy to have you back with them. Think about it.


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