When I was the commissioner of Lucknow, a retired civil servant came to meet me in my office. I didn’t know him closely and had only heard his name but he felt close to me. He had a personal problem and wanted me to solve it with the help of my official position. The problem was his only son who was married and was living in the same house, on the first floor. The son had been brought up with lots of love and was married in due course. The daughter-in-law was also to their liking, at least in the initial years of marriage.
The son was not very sound financially but his wife also being a working woman, they were somehow managing by themselves. To begin with, the family was living together with a common kitchen but gradually the kitchen had to be separated and the son shifted to the first floor. The house was owned by the father. In due course, even living as neighbours became difficult and things reached to such a pass that the father wanted his son to vacate the house. The son was not willing to do so, mainly because of financial reasons, and this had become a bone of contention between the father and
the son. The father had come to me to get his house vacated. I listened to his problem patiently without intervening, till he finished. As soon as he completed, I asked him whether he had come to me thinking of me as a commissioner or as a well-wisher. I also told him that as a commissioner, I was not in a position to help him because it was his personal problem, but I could certainly be of help as a person provided he desired so. Being a good person, he could understand my point and agreed to listen to my personal advice.
Then I told him that the problem was not with his son but with himself. His attachment, expectations as well as his ego were the main cause of the issue. I also told him that if at all separation from them was an answer to the problem, he should vacate the house instead of asking his son to do so. He was listening to me seriously, which encouraged me to advise further. I said that according to me, separation was not the answer to the problem and in all probability it would only aggravate it. The answer lied in shedding the ego and developing an attitude of detachment in their relationship. For this, he should start treating his son as his tenant whose help could be sought only in an emergency. For this, even if a nominal rent was to be charged, there was no harm in doing that also. After all, if his son vacated the house, he would have to search for a tenant.
The elderly gentleman took my advice seriously and without speaking much thanked me and left the place. His body language conveyed that he was going to follow my counsel and he actually did. He met me again after a few months and thanked me profusely for having given him a very pragmatic advice. At that time, his wife was also with him and she was very happy too. They both admitted that the major fault was at their end and once they took care of that, the relationship improved. Now they were living happily with their son as neighbours, and he, like a tenant. Since then whenever we meet, he never forgets to mention this episode.