Mr. Rao teaches a lesson

*~ Winning Entry in Tata Tea Jaago Re’s ‘Too Busy To Care’ Contest

Rocking arm chair

The son had turned into a money monster. He had a number of specializations tucked in his backpack – a PhD in skin treatments, a British course in acne removal, a Chinese one on liposuction. He was the doctor who did aggressive marketing: there were boards all over his house-cum-clinic and full-page advertisements in several leading newspapers.

We would meet the father in the market place sometimes. He would usually be buying fruits, occasionally a chocolate.

“How are things Mr. Rao? You are not around much lately.” we would ask.

“Just old age…” he would nod. The following words would be lost sometimes in the noise of a fleeting car and at other times, in his raspy cough.

“Heed that cough Mr. Rao. Get your sonny the-doctor to prescribe some super medicine.” we would smile as we walked past.

A few weeks down the line, Mr. Rao stopped going out entirely. “He stays cooped up in his upstairs room, a newspaper on his lap.” Our maid would announce at times, her demeanour enlivened with the fascinating news piece.

We would ask her if he was doing well. “Oh I don’t clean that part of the house.” she would brush us aside. “Doctor Saab doesn’t like me being away from the clinic-cleaning chores.”

On  sunlit winter afternoons that year, we would sit nibbling oranges, when an armchair would sometimes rock on the Rao terrace. A photograph of Mrs. Rao, which had hung there – suspended from a hook – ever since her death a few years ago, would lie shattered on the floor.

The son would never show up in the terrace nor, presumably, in his father’s room near the attic. We wondered if Mr. Rao was getting enough to eat. And then, usually, the oranges would run out and we would climb down the stairs.


“There are speakers being set up Didi!” the maid sounded excited that morning. “And long rows of carpets and chairs have arrived on a truck!”

Catching on her infectious excitement, we came out to look.

The son was supervising the installation of a large white tent and several loudspeakers in every corner. Centre stage, on a raised platform, sat a life-size photograph of the father.


We wonder now, could we have done some good had we gone to visit Mr. Rao once?

Could we have spoken to the son about his ailing father and how he was the one who needed his medical degrees the most?

Could we have been better neighbours and not prioritized Mr. Rao’s physical and mental depression based on the longevity of our oranges?

It saddens me when I realize there are many more Mr. Raos in the world. Plenty of ignored fathers, plenty of feeble mothers. Plenty of people who would be better off in old age homes where paid help at least ensures healthy last days. We need to learn to be better neighbours, to be more considerate and compassionate towards older people, to be simply put, better human beings.

Mr. Rao doesn’t rock that armchair any more. But his demise did wake me up to a stark reality: you can never be Too Busy To Care. And if at all, you find yourself going on such lines, there will probably be several people who will one day be too busy to care for you.

— —

Jaago Re & Blogadda

I am too busy to care, but want to do something. Jaago Re and are helping me do my bit for the society.

31 thoughts on “Mr. Rao teaches a lesson

  1. Pingback: Too Busy To Care & Earth Hour winners announced judged by Harini Calamur & WWF

  2. thats just it. so many ignored parents and yet we aren’t able to do anything about it. sometimes even speaking to the son or daughter doesn’t work, coz they’re just too busy in their own life and race after money or recognition or whatever! a sad story, and many more Mr. Rao’s in the world for sure!

    Leo @ I Rhyme Without Reason

    • Rat race they call it, with an expression of pride. What good will money do when you can’t care for the people who raised you with so much love? Yes, sometimes the so called children are too wrapped up to get any talking do them good.
      Good to see you around Leo 🙂

  3. I also think the reason that we do not intervene in such situations is because of trespassing into a family’s private space. I have two colleagues, who are married to each other and everyone in my offie knows that there is abuse in the relationship. Even they know that we know. But there is nothing we can or are able to do anything here. My more proactive colleagaues had a frank discussion with the two–but the message was loud and clear. Back off !

    Good luck with the contest !

    • Yes, there certainly is a space that every family/couple deserves. But when it’s very evident that some party is in trouble and the don’t-invade-our-privacy motto is been put up just as a veneer, I feel it is our moral duty as friends/relatives to try and sort out the situation. It’s good on your colleagues’ part to have at least had a talk. Though it doesn’t seem to have worked out now but you never know – perhaps it lent someone some courage to speak up, some warmth in the knowledge that people care and are willing to help… the like.

      Thanks Sudhagee! 🙂

    • Thanks Zephyr. 🙂
      Yep, makes me feel very sad at times – the state we have all come to. I may sound like a granny here but people were indeed more compassionate in olden days.

  4. That was a good one Deb. A problem, which actually should not have been one. It’s we, are we damn so busy, that we can’t look after our parents? I guess the one is not worthy of being called as Child. Mr. Rao suffered in Silent and His DOCTOR son would not care.
    i would rather kill that guy first before doing anything for Mr Rao.
    Read my entry here

    • Seriously Rajiv, it’s so downright weird how we can overlook our parents. And how smoothly we assume that is a plight we can never have.
      Glad you liked it… thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  5. Its a lovely lesson he taught….felt so bad for that generation, who gave so much to their children….

    Indeed it takes a moment to show we care….lets do that.

    Thot provoking post. 🙂

  6. I think the problem really is that we are not just too busy to care, but also too hesitant to dare, so all we do is stare.

    Thanks for the link to Jago Re.


    • A true rhyme Jyoti. 🙂
      However, this hesitation does not come up when its our own matter we delve in. Being a good neighbour at least entails constructive concern, without being obtrusive.

  7. Yepp i am sure if we had time we could have made life for Mr rao a bit more nicer .. but we are all so busy in our life’s for one thing or other

    and as the above comment WE too will get there and be Mr. Rao’s sooon

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