Growing old gracefully
Centenarian Mahalakshmi with her family members. - Photo: K.R. Deepak
Sitting on her favourite chair and blowing out 100 candles on her birthday cake this year is Vizag's T. Mahalakshmi of Gangapur Layout. She is the pride of the colony.
One hundred summers have not taken the toll on her and she is full of life as she was 50 years ago. For her Vizag is the whole world and she has been through both World Wars and is aghast at the prospect of yet another one.
Mahalakshmi is not literate in the worldly sense of the word. She studied up to primary school and was a bright young kid. Married to 18-year-old Satyanarayana Murthy of Kakinada at the age of 13, she began her stint as homekeeper and mother of 11 children.
The exit of her husband in 1960 added to her responsibilities, and she saw her youngest son, T. Prabhakar Rao, through college and made him settle down. When he retired as manager of Coromandel Fertilisers, Mahalakshmi moved into his house at Gangapur Layout.
Till last year her daily chores had been the same. She would wake up at 3.30 a.m. and after prayers tend to the poultry and cattle.
A little gardening would keep her engaged for a while, and she would do all the household work herself and even find time to update on the colony happenings.
"However, over the last one year age is trying to catch up with me," she says. "I am unable to wake up early and attend to the work. I have handed over the home to my daughter-in-law and am happy in being the grand old woman commanding from the bed. I still have a say in the menu for the day and the course to be taken by my grandchildren."
Mahalakshmi has a number of friends and relatives who ring her up and talk for hours to her. Her grandchildren find her the only competition for the telephone. "When Nanamma gets a call, we have to wait at least half-an-hour to get the phone back", quips her granddaughter Aparna, who is doing her MBA.
And what does the she discuss with her friends? Religion! Spirituality! The children!! A big NO....she is happy talking about her favourite actress Bhanumathi and her sterling role in ''Malleswari'' ... or about the latest baby born to the neighbour.
She knows that there is unrest on the borders and dreads another war, but she is intensely patriotic---"Mera Bharat Mahaan".
The secret of her longevity is her positive approach to problems. Her early morning coffee keeps her going through the day. She pops in a vitamin B complex capsule and her blood pressure tablets after every meal. Her 32 teeth are intact and she has never visited a dentist in her life time. After her intra-ocular transplant a few years ago, her sight is perfect and she recognises people who visit her. Although she needs support to stand up from the bed, she bathes herself and is fastidious about her clothes.
Her 40 grand children and 25 great-grandchildren fill her hours with happiness and Mahalakshmi is the "most happening" grandma in the colony! She watches a little cricket on television and is proud of her personal score: 100 not out!
One thing is certain: as and when God chooses to claims this prize wicket, she will walk back to the pavilion with her bat up in the air, having the whole city applaud her innings. Great going woman!
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