Yesterday I was hearing the story of a man who supported his 5 sisters (one of them widowed) almost all his life. Typical government employee he had an irresponsible father who had 8 children.

The son qualified as an engineer and joined government service. Then it was up to him to support his father through life. His father thought it was his right of being looked after by his son. So the son had to send money to his father (or there would be no food on the table), and get his sisters married off.

The son did all this, and so obviously could not save much money for ‘his’ own family. Then he had to support one stupid brother-in-law who would quit his job every 1-2 years because he was short tempered.

He is now about 80 years old and he and his family think he would have paid for 10 ‘thread ceremonies’ and 13 marriages. Apart from this he paid for his father’s illnesses, mother died without much doctor expenses, and for miscellaneous ‘please send me money’ kinda requests.

He is now NOT SO WELL OFF and is dependent on his son and daughter. His net-worth would be about Rs. 400,000 + a house in which he lives with his wife. His son is well off, and earns about Rs. 30L a year and his daughter is also a professional earning about Rs. 20L a year.

He hates taking money from his daughter…so sometimes it gets routed through his son!

NONE of his nephews and nieces EVER make an attempt to help him. Invitations are sent without tickets (I think this is nothing short of a crime, if you seriously want a non earning financially dependent senior citizen to attend), and when they come to visit him (rarely if at all) they are polite, but not really helpful.

This post is just to remind all of us…that in the past if there was somebody who helped you – in your education, marriage, illness, or asset acquisition, AND THAT PERSON IS TODAY DEPENDENT on somebody else (could be son!) remember what he gave you was a LOAN. After all he sacrificed HIS REQUIREMENT to help you at that point in time.

It is time to repay the old loans. You may not know the amount, it does not matter. If he helped you when you needed it, you should help him when he needs it.

Such people will never, ever ask. Just a reminder.

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  1. Thanks Subra, for this exceptionally relevant post. I am 45 years of age and know that our generation on the average is richer and more cautious with money. But one or two generations ago, it was common in Indian families to support other family members – family here means truly extended family. It was a way of life that truly lived the precept – ‘vasudhaikakutumbakam’.

    I have personal experience of such kindness by elders. Huge thanks for reminding that I need to pay back these dues – both in cash, kind and concern.

    I have been reading almost everything that has ever been published in personal finance for the past eight years- never have I come across such a truthful post reminding us of our duties. This unique perspective is possible for you as your Indian values have kept you grounded.

    Please keep up the good work.

  2. Simply loved this…More than thinking it as a loan, i feel it is love and affection that should shower. Even if you do not pay it back, it is important that you ‘thank him’ for everyday he has sacrificed for you.

  3. Dharmesh Thakker I would like share my story. A friend of mine borrowed a substantial amount of money to get treatment of his son. His sons forced him to commit suicide so all the liabilities are gone with him. As a tribute to his fathers death son got destination wedding for himself in less then three months of his fathers death. This irresponsible sons are currently promoters of a startup raising money to elope with.

  4. Ramakrishna Sripathy Couldn’t comment on the blog : here it goes: 8 children & 5 sisters! For a second i wondered how you got hold of my father’s story! difference being he is 65 now is instead of 80:) Bitter but very true article. my father also had a near same experience as what is in the article. sponsoring education / real estate/wedding of siblings’ children /but managed to save quite a bit more than what was mentioned above despite working in a public bank. Still irks when even his cousins want him to help now despite they themselves being well off and have grandchildren of their own. He has realized this & is putting his immediate family first and is strict with freebies to others.

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