How Autumn Brings Detachment

How Autumn Brings Detachment

“I am still thinking about it.” Lulu, my parrot, said as he descended in front of me and hopped closer. I was sitting under the mango tree. I did not realise that Lulu was perched on a branch above.

“What is it, Lulu?”

“You were talking about the autumn of life. You said conversations change as the autumn of life sets in. It is never really like it happens in nature.”


“You understand equinox, you see a change in the weather. Very discernible changes. But when you grow older, you do not realise that you have grown older! In fact, nothing changes for many persons even after then cross fifty.”

“That’s true, Lulu. I think it happens because we do not live life consciously, we kind of sleepwalk through it.”

“More than that you do not think about your changed role. Your role changes slowly but surely. Office work keeps you busy, or you enjoy sinking yourself in the office work. But expectations of people from you change.”

“I get your point. My children were married before my retirement, and my granddaughter was also born. These events remind you that things are not the same. When you see your children in the role of father or mother, you realise things have changed for you too.”

“Relationships change with the entry of every new player. Every new person makes impact; even an infant’s entry changes the relationship between all. You must have experienced this when your granddaughter was born.”

“Very true. And at the stage, you battle between involvement and detachment. Birth of a grandchild raises involvement high and then low like the flame in a wind. You realise that you have to allow everybody some space, that’s how comes detachment. I mean it should come if you are thinking about your role.”

“When did that strike you?”

“It struck me when my children moved away to another location with their family for their jobs. You realise you are now in an advisory role!”

“Ha, ha! The HR man in you has not gone away.”

“I had my first taste of detachment when I wrote my will.”

“Will? What awakens that sense of detachment?”

“When you decide that you must part with everything which you have carefully accumulated. And sign the document!”

“Ladies have deep attachments. Deciding distribution of jewellery and other possessions to children and their spouses must not be coming easily to them.”

“Not really. That’s not the issue. The real question is fairness. If you have two children you must do a fair divide. But what is fair is not easy to decide. My wife and I had several hours of discussion on this single issue. The problem was not about giving away. The problem was about being fair, and we had different notions about fairness. This discussion distances you from your accumulations.”

“Did you share this discussion with your children?”

“Yes. We did.”

“That’s great because that’s the legacy they will value. Parents leave behind a legacy of money or property – and believe me, it is the least valuable legacy.”

“What is the most valuable legacy?”

“It is the conversation about how to be fair and proper. It is this conversation that tells them that no solution is perfect, it is the consensus and the thought behind the final solution that takes the cake.”

“Why do you call it most valuable? Is it because the final solution will avert conflicts?”

“Yes, to some extent. But more than that, you would have hopefully set a way of thinking for them to replicate. A tradition worth emulation. An openness worth practising. Yet, I will not call this a legacy!”

“What? You are posing riddles.”

“You ought to know that ‘doing right thing’ is the only thing you can do. It is in your hands. Expecting children to follow your example is also a form of attachment. Just do the right thing, and be satisfied that you played your role well. Remember always that detachment is not the opposite of attachment; it is the absence of attachment.”

I looked at Lulu. He too gave me a look. Something gets communicated with a look at each other; words fall short to carry such messages!

Vivek S Patwardhan