A Little Life
A Little Life9 mins 210 9 mins 210
It was an old country road bench along the river Tagus in Spain.
The beautiful birds in thousands came in the morning as a routine near this bench, as always. But today, they have been waiting for over an hour but no sign of Mr. and Mrs. Antonio. They are usually early at this place to prepare the pots to feed the birds. The birds, however, kept waiting for them to come and here they come. The birds saw them and started gathering around the pots waiting for them to be filled. Mr. and Mrs. Antonio came out of the car and hurriedly moved with taking the support of their sticks, towards the birds and quickly filled the pots. The birds started enjoying their meal. The couple sat on the bench with a sigh of relief that they could make it in time. They enjoyed the sight of these happy and chirping birds as they have been for over a decade now.
Mr. and Mrs. Antonio started discussing, that it's good that they could manage to reach otherwise the birds would have to go without food. Mr. Antonio said, we must thank god, that we have been given this opportunity to serve these birds. They enjoyed this mesmerising scene and they actually had named a few of them. Bricky, the oldest and the head of this herd of birds would always be busy looking around as if it is his duty to protect them. Then there were few looking after the young ones as if they are they are the mothers of these young ones, Cindy, was the oldest of them all. The bond had grown beyond imagination. The birds would come and sit on the laps, shoulders, and head of Mr. and Mrs. Antonio and they would happily accept the expression of love.
Mr. Antonio actually got up late today because of the heavy medicine dose he had to take because he was not well. They otherwise were never late to feed these birds. Mr. and Mrs.Antony was an old couple with a marriage of bonding over 40 years now. Mr. Antony at 71, was although fit but had his share of old age problems. He was smart and would always wear his favourite set of clothes which would include a matching Coat and tie with a hat on his head. He was a retired school teacher. Mrs. Antonio at sweet 63 used to look like a Barbie doll, thin built with a charming smile and wearing skirts with flowers all around. She was a social worker and now retired to live happily with her husband. The Antonio's used to live in and old age home nearby. (Well you would have already started cursing their children, but that is not the case).
Olivia and Sharp are their grandchildren, born to Mark Antonio, their only son. They settled in the old age home, not because of any ill-treatment by their son or daughter in law but because they wanted to live with their childhood friends and of course without bothering their children. In fact, Mark was very annoyed with this decision and didn't approve it for long. It was only when Mark was convinced with the idea of they being happy with their friends and would be meeting them almost every day, that he allowed them to leave for old age home though with a heavy heart.
The story behind this old age home theory dates back to 1977, when four family friends, Joan, Smith, Lam, and ofcourse Antonio decided to open an old age home to support the left out and old people living in their town. The Smith gave this unique idea that they should open this place not only to help but for all of them to stay there when they grow old and would starting to become a burden on their families. The idea immediately was liked and accepted by all. Thus came this house, which was named by Mrs. Antonio as, "A little life", based on the fact that only a little life is left and the same should be lived to the full without being a burden on anybody. The house was build to keep a family of four couples. It was made with all modern amenities at that time and was frequently upgraded as the new technology came in. They ensured that the best of the amenities are provided in the house for ensuring much-needed physical and mental peace at that age. Initially, they started with a corpus fund and contributed their savings towards the corpus every month. The house was designed by Joan, who was an architect. He designed every possible place with a wheelchair accessibility and a lot of greenery around to keep the happiness alive in the house. Smith was a mechanical engineer who was made responsible for equipping the house with gadgets that are needed to sustain old age. Mr and Mrs. Lam being doctors were given the obvious task of making all medical essential including the machines for giving medical care within the house. They even hired a Nurse for all the immediate medical support to the residents. The other ladies took over the charge of building the asthetic sense of each and every room and also the verandas. Joan had designed the house in such a way that enough sun rays are allowed inside the house and also the welcome breeze. The house was built on a road along the river to ensure easy access to the house and ensuring immediate assistance when needed. It also helped in keeping the old people alive to the environment with the busy road ahead and ofcourse the morning and evening walks would be easier along the river. They hired a cook, gardener, and a full time help for the house. The beautiful and enshinining 'A little Life' took two years to come in shape. The first occupants were four couples who were either abandoned by their families or had nobody to take care of them. It was never without full occupancy. Those who could bear the expenses paid for it and some of them who could not, still enjoyed every comfort of life.
The four friends made sure that they visit the place atleast once a day in rotation or together. They had their share of entertainment and tough times with the house. Sometimes, the couple's staying would fight on small issues which would require counseling and even threatening at times. The medical emergencies were quite often but thanks to Mrs. Jose, the nurse who had been with the house since its inception, everything was taken care of. And ofcourse the clinic of Mr. and Mrs. Lam was always open for the inmates. When ever somebody used to leave for the heavenly adobe, the entire family used to pray and support those who were still alive to complete their journey of life alone.
It was after 30 years of its existence that the first founder family of Mr. and Mrs Joan joined the house in the year 2007. Although, it was after an unfortunate incident when the only daughter of Joan's refused to support the couple with regular medical issues. The problem was not of money but was of time. Mrs. Joan was suffering from Breast Cancer and was required to undergo surgery and frequent medical attention and visits to the hospital. Mr. and Mrs. Joan finally decided to enter The little life, when one of the rooms got vacated after Mrs. Johnson left for her final journey. All the four friends came together to settle him there. Mr Lam even fitted the machines to ensure that Mrs Joan gets her treatment here only. She recovered with an year due to the constant mental and medical support in the house.
In 2008, the house underwent a major renovation with upgraded and modern machines and a new kitchen set up. The 2009, Mr. and Mrs. Smith joined the house, after both their son's moved to US to settle down with their families. They insisted on their parents to shift too but Mr. and Mrs. Smith were happy here and wanted to stay with their friends as they have decided. When the house was vacated by Mr. and Mrs. Kaith as they were called by their grandson to stay with him, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio joined the family in 2010 after the much-deserved retirement of Mr. Antonio from the School. It was a great day, as not only Kings High School but the teachers from the entire town came to bid farewell to Mr Antonio. He had a lovable personality and due to the social service done by Mrs Antonio, they were liked by almost the entire town.
Since the day, they joined, 'The Little Life', both husband, and wife were frequent visitor to that bench and serving the birds there. In 2012, Mr and Mrs. Lam decided to shift too, since they were not able to run the Clinic, and as it is they were lonely with no children of their own. They were very happy to join the family and the house which they have thought of and made 35 years ago. Al the friends were together now and were living the life they thought of. They thanked God for giving them this opportunity to stay and live together.
The children and grandchildren of all less Mr. and Mrs. Antonio and Smith's used to visit them frequently. Infact, every time they planned to do some project for the family, Sharp, the grandson of Antonio's used to join and help them all throughout.
They had a lovely time together. They would organise picnics and weekend parties. But most importantly, they used to organise a fundraiser every month for the sustenance of old people like them. Mr. Smith took up singing and during the fundraiser, his performance used to be the highlight for which people used to wait. Together they were overcoming all the problems which they used to face. Mrs. Jose, the nurse, and her daughter Shiny were the pillars on which most of the residents of The little Life were actually surviving and probably living beyond the mandated years of life.
Well ,today on 03 March 2020, the situation has been grave in the entire town with cases of Covid 19 increasing day by day. But thanks to the community help in this small town of Toledo, the older people were safe and were being provided all the assistance. Hope the "little life "brings some motivation for all of us to understand life and the fact that every situation in life has a way out, how bad or ugly it might seem. The little life is surviving and the residents are as ever and always enjoying life to its full