For good quality long life, use it well
Sujata Devadas, April 24 2020
Many elders have not lost sight of the central plot of life. They demystify the perception that exemplary intellect in old age is contrived, limited to Jane Marple, the romantic fictional character formed in Agatha Christie’s mind.
Figuring it out
Elegant octogenarian Meena Majumdar, frail in appearance, is a charming example. A teenager’s loud distressed voice came out of a neighbouring villa groaning about boredom. It does not distract Meena. She was looking contentedly at 18 of her self designed recently made crochet pouches, bags, doilies and runners lying on a large glass dining table in front of her. She is never bored.
She has ready buyers for this work. Her family gives her great attention and care. She strides out alone in the evening to meet her friends, using just a retractable cane for assistance.
Those younger in age, that walk past her are ignorant about Meena’s post graduate degree in economics, her earlier career as founder teacher of a nursery school in a Kolkata suburb, working 14 years as that school’s assistant headmistress, then after a brief respite, 14 years as head of the English department at Hind Motor High School on Birla Road, Uttarpara, West Bengal.
Few of Meena's crochet craft
She retired at 60 choosing crochet as leisure time work, a craft her mother Amiyo Sanyal taught Meena when she was just 7 years old. The youngest daughter of a well-settled Bengali business family in Lucknow, Meena is a wife, a mother, who gained admirers for teaching English competently and for her crochet craft. While living a retiree’s life in Serampore, the Ladies Association translated their appreciation into action! by displaying her crochet work at trade fairs, handloom fairs and Milan Mela selling it to a wider span of customers than she ever expected.
Surojit and Meena Majumdar
Meena’s husband, Surojit Kumar Majumdar, died when she was 72. Several surgeries followed in the years thereafter - gall bladder, brain tumour, pacemaker, cataract - bringing her hobby to a veritable halt. But even now in her 80s she continuously designs and makes pretty pouches, handkerchiefs with crocheted edges, runners, doilies and brightens up with enthusiasm when she talks about it.
Like Meena, many elders dodge so many risks and coast through life by staying active. They select interesting projects, contribute often to their family, sometimes to the community. Sharing Solutions magazine has covered other such sterling personalities above 70 in the past.
They fill a distinctive niche.
The worst thing to tell them is “sit there; breathe and do nothing else.” A septuagenarian retired high court judge took no umbrella as he stepped out into the rain. His delight was in feeling raindrops on his skin. Each elder person is a study in how he or she tackles adversities, how dynamic personalities and sporting attitudes form. At a steady pace, they chug ahead and smile readily, despite their fragility.
Playing games with them is a real eye-opener. A young man fell off the bed laughing as he played Pictionary with his Grandma. The joke ? Their differing depictions of a party. Excitement sparks up as each generation shines their particular 'rational' logic in discussions. A number of elders still enjoy playing with a beach ball, badminton, tennis, table tennis, swimming, cycling, carroms, cards, cooking, read or write poetry and literature.
The question ‘how old are you?’ underlines that you get older from the moment you are born. As human beings, these elders too may have a few flaws. Yet better than any preacher, they are the best role models for all.
Meena and a friend promote a cause at a local community fair