Event ‘Unarvu,' a monthly programme for senior citizens, reiterates that age is no bar to having fun

T hey say 60 is the new 40. But a trip to check out ‘Unarvu,' a programme for senior citizens organised by the Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan, convinces you that 60 takes you back to 16. Every third Saturday of the month, the sprawling premises of the Samskrithi Bhavan come alive with laughter, debates and talent shows, as many senior citizens in the city get together.

Refreshing feel

Unarvu means to feel refreshed and we have envisaged it as an opportunity for the elderly to meet and make friends with the similar-minded,” says ‘Unarvu's convener M. Raveendran, himself a senior citizen. When ‘Unarvu,' was launched three months ago, its organisers were doubtful of its feasibility. But the very first programme itself proved them wrong. Seventy participants registered for the session.

Unarvu's first session included a talk on lifestyle diseases, a discussion on ‘Senior citizens and the contemporary Kerala society' and a music programme called ‘Smrithilayam' hosted by singer Kallara Gopan and team. A 25-member committee was also formed to give suggestions.

But it was the next session that astounded the organisers and the participants alike. The number of participants was 250! In that session (held on February 20) S. Krishnan, Head of Department of Psychiatry and Holistic Medicine, at the Medical College, introduced the rudiments of yoga and pranayama to the participants. It was interesting to see them eagerly nodding their salt-and-pepper heads in agreement, some of them even trying out the stretches of the ‘Dhanurasana.' Some were taking notes while a few others, probably Yoga practitioners, looked all excited to ‘interrogate' the physician on those essential ‘asanas' that he did not mention during the demonstration. And during the tea-break several ‘students' surrounded Dr. Krishnan for clarifications.

Good atmosphere

Said R. Omana, a 64-year-old former government employee from Mudavanmugal: “I have decided to pen my autobiography, all because of ‘Unarvu.' I enjoy the atmosphere here, and I plan to attend all the meetings to come. In fact it's a lot better than sitting alone at home when my children are at office and my grandchild is in school.” In the post-break session the floor was thrown open to the participants to showcase their talents.

N. Shahul Hameed, who released a CD of his songs in the last meet, was the first one to sing. “I was not feeling well in the morning, but I had to come for my friends,” he said. P.R. Sukumaran, who was honoured with the Gurupuja award by the Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi recently, was invited to share his experiences in amateur theatre. The octogenarian explored the possibilities of using music for peace and welfare activities, and transported the audience to another era when his drama troupe used to perform all over the country.

Men and women queued up to express themselves – a fun-filled poem on campus love, a heartfelt rendering of the lullaby ‘Thaaye Yashode,' a short story on pensioners' travails, an impromptu folk song by noted cultural activist Vattapparambil Peethambaran and so on.

Then 79-year-old Jacob Anthraper, a retired assistant registrar of the University of Kerala, hopped on to the stage, equipped with an electronic sruti box and sang ‘Deewana Hua Badal,' a Mohammed Rafi number from Kashmir ki Kali. His resounding voice filled the air as one of the audience remarked: “His ‘Suhani Raat' was the showstopper last month.”

At one p.m., the convener had to step in and call it a day. “It would be great if we could also arrange lunch for our participants,” he said “As such we are going to submit a request to the government to sanction more funds for the purpose, since most of our members suffer from various ailments, especially diabetes,” Raveendran said.

As the seniors departed, the Koothambalam was still vibrating with their positive energy.

Rasmi Binoy