Bablu Bauri lying in his courtyard
his father died of hunger recently
Advocating the need for companionship in the autumn of life, a
Nagpur octogenarian has taken up the task of mooting live-in
relationships for senior citizens who are leading a lonely life
after outliving their spouses.
"The relationship might not be sexual only. They can live together
as friends or define their own relationship," Arvind Godbole, 81,
who is spearheading the initiative, told IANS.
Godbole is working under the aegis of Jayeshthanche Live-In
Relationship Sanyojak Mandal, formed by the Geeta Godbole Smriti
Trust named after his daughter.
He said he got inspired by a book written by Dada Dharmadhikari,
an Indian freedom fighter and philosopher.
"Fondly known as Acharya Dada Dharmadhikari, he was one of the
strongest adherents of Mahatma Gandhi's principles. In his book 'Purush
aur Stree Sahajeevan' Dada quoted Gandhiji as saying that a woman
has many 'roopas'. She can be a sister, a mother, an aunt, a
friend and so on," Godbole said.
"What we need to realise is that a woman can shower her affection
in any form of a relationship. It does not have to be sexual. When
we understand this, we will be free from the shackles of backward
and narrow-minded mindsets," he added.
Godbole said that the book inspired him to bring together lonely
senior citizens. The recent Supreme Court verdict making live-in
relationships legal encouraged Godbole to take the initiative
The mandal is now on the verge of laying down rules for membership
and soon a drive would be formally launched to enrol interested
"Once that is done, we will be open to registering members. A
general member can be anyone over the age of 55 years -- single,
married or widowed. We will then call them for a general meeting
next month and discuss the format of the mandal and put it up for
approval," Godbole said.
The octogenarian said that the mandal currently had 15 core
committee members and that the committee was a part of the Geeta
Godbole Smriti Trust.
"As of now we are a sub-committee of the trust. Later, we might
apply for a separate entity," he said.
"Once the members agree upon a format, we will be organising
several workshops and programmes for senior citizens," he added.
Godbole, however, conceded that the initiative might be much more
difficult to take forward. "While it sounds like a wonderful idea
at first instance, we also cannot ignore the fact that elders are
set in their ways and their ideas. If we bring together a hundred
people, chances are that only two of them would be compatible," he
"But companionship is only one part of it. We would also look
forward to sponsoring hostels where seniors could pay and stay in
the comfort and company of others," he added.
Godbole said that youngsters could also register as volunteers.
"From all the general members, those who are left alone in society
will be registered as beneficiaries. Our aim is that these
beneficiaries be benefited from the mandal."
The former Bank of India officer said that once the members were
registered, the mandal would help them with a memorandum of
"The agreement of the MoU will be signed by both the beneficiaries
who plan to stay together. We are also thinking about deciding an
amount of compensation for women who might get cheated in this
case. But this is just a preventive measure," he said.
Godbole said that the core committee may arrive at a decision that
the legal or biological heirs of the elders give a clearance to
their proposed live-in relationship.
According to 61-year-old Nandini Pimplapure, a committee member of
the Mandal, "This is an age of nuclear families. Moreover, when
your children grow up and start working or go abroad for work,
parents are left alone. It becomes even more difficult to tackle
loneliness if your spouse dies".
Pimplapure, a retired school principal, says that a live-in
relationship is often misunderstood.
"By taking this initiative, we are trying to remove the tabboo
that surrounds a live-in relationship. I never married due to my
dedication to work. Today I stay with my 92-year-old mother and
take care of her. This is a live-in relationship of sorts," she
Pimplapure said that instead of misinterpreting the phrase people
should look at it in a broader sense.
"At the evening of your life, you look for moral support and
companionship. Our organisation will work towards this. Two women
or two men or even a group of oldies can live-in and be good
friends," she said.
(Mauli Buch can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)