[Before I start, want to share for those who many not know that Shravankumar as per Indian mythology is considered epitome of devotion towards parents]
I was waiting at the gate for my plane from USA to the Netherlands. Generally, when I have nothing important to do, then I like observing people, their behaviour, their body language, reactions etc.
As I was looking here and there, I noticed that two gentlemen were taking an elderly man on a wheelchair to the airline counter for some discussion with the staff. All three of them seemed very talkative, friendly with people around, and they were speaking loudly. Looking at them, I was just trying to guess if they were friends, relatives or have incidentally met here at airport.
As soon as the boarding started, they were the first one to go in, as he was on wheelchair. After a while, I also reached inside and I was surprised to see that coincidentally they were sitting right next to me. I smiled at them, greeted and took my seat.
It didn't took me long to realize that the old man was the father and the two were his sons. Father had hearing problem, so all three were speaking loudly. Father was speaking loudly and the sons were also replying loudly.
Not that I was trying to listen to what they were talking but they were so loud that I could not ignore. Not only me, I think everyone around also heard whatever they were talking, without any effort 😊.
Within minutes I knew or partly guessed that when the sons were teenagers, along with their mother and father. all four of them together came on a tour of Europe and they visited Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy etc. Recently during COVID, mother passed away and since then their father has been very lonely and depressed. His health started deteriorating slowly, as he became indifferent to life. While both the sons (who were themselves around 50) were busy with their respective jobs and families, but as the father's condition deteriorated, they decided to bring him back to life and planned to take him on a trip to Europe. They were going to all those places where four of them had gone before - reliving that era and those memories.
As the plane was soaring high in the sky, father fondly reminisced about the past journeys. He was remembering - incidents with wife and kids, some funny stories, some adventures and some fights…..I was enjoying sitting right next to him listening to his experiences. While old father looked physically feeble but as he was very relaxed and immersed in memories with his sons around, there was a sort of enthusiasm and glitter in his eyes. If a person is happy, he looks shiny despite physical pain.
They had made extensive plans to go around Europe for a month and both sons were sharing small/big details of the plan with their father and he was also asking a lot of questions with curiosity. He was missing his wife all the time, and sometimes he would get emotional while remembering her, but as soon as he felt sad, both his sons had this wonderful ability to cheer him up again with some funny excuses, stories and jokes. This continued all the way.
As father's hands were shaking, so when the food came, both the brothers helped him. Their father needed to go to the toilet every 20-25 minutes and required a lot of assistance each time. Both brothers readily accompanied him and helped him together. In that long 9-10 hours journey, he went to relieve himself about 15-20 times and each time the two sons promptly helped him. They both did not look upset at all. I was wondering that this is just the beginning of the trip and for next one month, they have to travel across Europe, and will have a tough time taking care of their father.
Often people hesitate to go on tourism in such old age. Travel for pilgrimage is understandable, but taking such a fragile father for fun tourism is generally avoided. It's a big deal. The more I saw, heard and understood them, my respect for those two sons increased with time. For a father whose sons are so devoted, the pains of old age are much less for him.
As father had hearing issues, whatever the sons said, he would ask them to repeat - What did you say!! , and both sons did not even once try to avoid him. What they were discussing was just some mundane, non-important matters - either just something for entertainment or some general thing, but still sons kept on repeating for their father, the whole thing, again and again. Generally I have seen that when elders ask too many questions and inquiries, the youth either do not answer or avoid the questions, but it was not the case here, no irritation, no procrastination.
Looking at the flight map on the screen, one of the son was sharing all the information with his father like at what altitude are we flying, how much distance is left, which city are we flying over, and so on. All these were unnecessary things but the sons kept talking to their father and answer whatever curiosities he had. Kept repeating.
All three of them were very talkative, although most of the time they were busy with each other, but in between they would talk to other passengers and air hostesses etc. It is important to mention here that Father did not sleep at all during that long air journey - I took a nap, watched a movie, but his conversation continued. There was a very good harmony between the two brothers. Sometimes one brother would talk when other was tired and so on.
Devotion, respect to parents, while this is common in India, but seeing these two sons further strengthened my belief that be it any corner of the world, if the upbringing is right, then Shravan Kumar’s can be anywhere.
Finally we landed in Amsterdam and my journey with them ended, they continued with their Europe tour. I hope their trip was successful, they were able to relive those old times, old memories and returned home safely.