This is Padmal Singh.
Last week, I mentioned Padmal Singh during my introduction of Mann Badhu (the resident at the elder care home in Pharping whose brothers had him declared legally dead while he was living in India) and said that he’d become friends with Padmal Singh. This friendship gives Padmal’s wife, Sahrda Tamral Kar, a bit of a break.
Today you’re meeting both Padmal and his wife, Sahrda.
Sahrda and Padmal met when they were both working at a garment factory. When Padmal had a stroke, everything changed, and Sahrda had to quit working to take care of him. There was no one to help her.
Padmal has full use of his limbs, walks and eat just fine, but has no emotion and barely speaks. He is fine walking around the property and even off the property from time to time, but more often than not Mann Badhu will walk with him out into the community. Below, Mann and Padmal turn to pose for the camera even though I was taking a video (the concept of moving pictures is unfathomable to them — I’ve even shown them the videos and it never quite registers that I’m the one taking the video).
Padmal is incapable of doing very much for himself. Sahrda manages his medications, helps him get dressed and bathed, and handles the rest of his personal care. He does need some redirection around mealtime — basically a reminder to come in to the dining room and stay seated until the food is served. He is fine with feeding himself, and waits for direction from Sahrda when the meal is done.
Sahrda is too young to collect a pension, and Padmal is a citizen of India, so he’ll never be eligible for one. To pay for their piles of medications, Sahrda works long hours making a type of incense by hand in their room, selling the packages to visitors at the elder care home and also a shop in town. (Photo below) She does not earn enough to pay for their food, though, so she earns her keep, so to speak, by helping around the property with cleaning, doing laundry, and other chores. She never complains. In her mind, they are fortunate to live here because Padmal is getting excellent care, and because they can be together.
When they were living in a room, and she would have to go out shopping or on errands, she always worried about leaving him behind. Now that they’re here, she says, “It’s a relief to know I don’t have to worry about him setting the place on fire when I’m not around.”
This is something lots of us with loved ones who have dementia or who’ve had a stroke can relate to.
When I asked what she would like to tell the people who donate money to support this elder care home, she said she wanted to bless them: “May they always have health, may they always have happiness, may they always know prosperity.”
Sending along blessings of my own,
Alicia Jean Demetropolis
The Global Humanity Initiative