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Change of Name Plate

It seemed that once he was no longer actively teaching or conducting research, he had become invisible to his former colleagues and students
12:03 AM Apr 14, 2024 IST | Dr. Showkat Rashid Wani
change of name plate

I went to meet the family of one of my expired teachers after a long time. At the entrance of the main gate there was a name plate which reflected the name of this revered teacher with a tag Professor. When I visited the place I saw the old name plate removed with a new marble stone reflecting the name of his business man son. During his lifetime professor had developed a rich library containing valuable resources for the budding scholars. I had visited the place to have access to some of his research materials. He had preserved news paper cuttings for decades which were instrumental for his students.


The library had been replaced by a small kitchen. Her daughter-in –law had dumped the books, journals, PhD thesis which the revered professor received for evaluation as an external examiner in a temporary shed outside the house. It is lying there in a haphazard manner; most of this intellectual resource was destroyed by the rain water which leaked through the tin roof. The damp floor did more harm to these resources. I remember once I borrowed a rare book on Dr Zakir Hussain authored by A G Noorani from this revered teacher. He had procured the Xerox copy of this book from the K G Saiydain collection housed in the library of Jamia Milia Islamia. For allowing Xerox copy of this book he had to take great pains for getting permission from the authorities. He had procured good collection of books, journals from NCERT, NUEPA when he had visited these places as a research scholar for pooling review of related literature for his PhD study as at that time there was no internet facility available.


Poor PG students had no access to quality foreign textbooks as they were priced in dollars. They would borrow these costly books from the revered professor and get the relevant portion Xeroxed. I had the opportunity to interact with the old servant of this revered professor who was associated with him during the last years of his life. He revealed some glaring facts which broke my heart. Post retirement revered professor confined himself to his library. He used to manage the household chorus through his pension money, still family members were not happy; they displayed a sense of ingratitude. Frequent quarrels between the adult siblings had made his life hell. Adult children had restricted the professor to meet his students.

One day there was a fight between the adult siblings; one of the married sons in a fit of rage housed his kitchen in the library and threw the books and other intellectual resources into the old store outside the house. The old father was looking as a mute spectator with deep sunken moist eyes. He had no courage to counter his arrogant children inflated with ego. Her daughter-in law told the author mockingly that his father-in –law had collected paper garbage all his life. Post retirement, without the structure of his teaching schedule and the intellectual stimulation of his research, he felt adrift. He reached out to former colleagues, hoping to maintain connections and stay involved in the academic world, but his calls and emails often went unanswered.


It seemed that once he was no longer actively teaching or conducting research, he had become invisible to his former colleagues and students. Even at academic events he attended, he found himself being sidelined in conversations or overlooked altogether. Invitations to speak at conferences and contribute to collaborative projects became increasingly rare, further reinforcing his feelings of being ignored and undervalued.


Feeling disheartened, revered professor developed withdrawal tendencies, spending long hours alone with his books and memories. He couldn’t shake the feeling that his years of dedication and expertise were now being disregarded, as if his value as a scholar had diminished with his retirement. He longed for companionship and meaningful interaction, but it seemed that everyone around him was too caught up in their own lives to notice his loneliness. The senior citizens are sometimes ignored or overlooked for a variety of reasons, though it’s important to note that this is not universal and many societies place a strong emphasis on respecting and caring for older adults. Here are some reasons why some senior citizens may experience feelings of being ignored:


Ageism: Ageism, or discrimination based on age, can lead to the marginalization of senior citizens in the society. Stereotypes about aging can perpetuate the belief that older people are less capable, less valuable, or less deserving of attention and respect.


Changing Social Dynamics: As people age, their social circles may shrink due to factors such as retirement, children moving away, or the loss of friends and family members. This can lead to social isolation and a lack of interaction with others, contributing to feelings of being ignored.

Technology and Communication: In a world where communication often happens through technology, some senior citizens may feel left behind if they are not familiar with or comfortable using digital devices and platforms. This can lead to difficulties in staying connected with others and accessing information and resources.

Health Challenges: Physical or cognitive health issues can make it more difficult for older adults to engage in social activities or communicate effectively with others. This can result in withdrawal from social interactions and a perception of being ignored or overlooked.

Changing Cultural Norms and Values: In our culture there is new norm evolving that place less emphasis on the contributions and well-being of older adults. This can manifest in behaviors such as excluding older family members from decision-making processes or undervaluing their wisdom and life experiences.

Busy Lives and Priorities: In today’s fast-paced world, many people are juggling multiple responsibilities and may not always have the time or energy to devote to maintaining relationships with older family members or acquaintances. This can inadvertently lead to feelings of neglect or invisibility for older adults.

Addressing these issues requires a combination of societal awareness, policy changes, and individual efforts to foster greater inclusivity and respect for senior citizens. It’s important for communities to recognize the valuable contributions of senior citizens and ensure that they have opportunities for social engagement, support, and recognition. 

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani is a Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir