I was convalescing in the hospital after a minor medical procedure. It was around 9.00 pm at night. The nurses had finished their rounds and the lights were turned off. I could hear the random sound of the monitoring machines from the far end of the corridor. The hospital ward finally became quiet. A sense of peace engulfed me and I was trying to sleep. Suddenly I heard someone asking a question “Do you love me “. I opened my eyes and looked around …Then I heard it again. “Do you really love me? “. The sound was from inside the blue curtain just next to me. I could see the light of a mobile phone. I realised that the elderly lady there, was talking to someone over the phone. She was crying. She had been very happy in the morning when her children and grandchildren visited her. They brought balloons, gifts and flowers and I saw them sitting on her bed, laughing and sharing a meal. Also, the volunteers from the nearby church were there too, to pray for her. What might have prompted her to ask this question, was she feeling lonely? Why was she crying?….. I thought to myself. What would make a recovery faster, gifts and prayers or feeling of being loved by someone.. I fell into sleep while contemplating these.
In this current Social Media era, it only needs a click to find friends and establish friendship. Yet why, even more and more people feel lonely. ..It seems, it is not the lack of relationship which makes someone feel lonely, rather it is the lack of meaningful relationship that makes people feel lonely. Many years ago, a study was conducted among married older adults in the US which revealed that 62 % married people feel loneliness. When marital couples stop sharing their thoughts and feelings between each other and when conversations become mere formal questions and answers, they feel disconnected and lonely. People may express this loneliness in different forms; some can show physical symptoms of fatigue and headache, or others may show signs of depression. Some may try to use drugs or alcohol to overcome this. There are people who may even put an end to their lives. Often, we don’t understand their difficulties and are therefore unable to intervene on time. It was not long ago that a young poet in Kerala who used to write poems on death and dying, committed suicide. When I heard this news, I thought about the severe loneliness he might have gone through, before taking his own life. Yet none seemed to notice it.
It is meaningful relationship which gives the feeling of belongingness and happiness to people. Many social researchers have demonstrated this fact. It is when people put an effort to see each other, hear each other and value each other, that a meaningful relationship is created. This process needs conscious effort. It is very important that we need to find time to meet and be with our friends and family, listen to them on regular intervals and value them, in order to establish a meaningful relationship. It is a ritual which needs conscious effort. A National Geographic study has identified five places in the world called blue zones where people live much longer than average. One of the reasons for their happiness and longevity was identified as feeling of belongingness. They were observed to be keeping meaningful family and social relationships. Another 80 years long Harvard study found that our relationship and how happy we are in our relationship has a powerful influence on our health. This study revealed that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, None of these studies found wealth, a major factor for happiness.
“Do you love me”?…the question still echoes in my ear…I don’t know what the reply was, yet I wish the answer was “yes I love you”. “I love you so much” . I hope this answer made her smile and that she slept peacefully. It is deep and meaningful relationship which gives happiness and nothing else can replace it. Let us remember that “relationships don’t develop automatically or don’t deepen on their own. It needs effort”.