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Category CENTENARIAN
 
Title Her Spirit Shines Through, Even at 95!
 
Details Older doesn’t mean sicker,Ó says Doliben Vanaji, a native of Rajkot, when asked about health problems she encounters at the age of 95. Watching her grandchildren running here and there to collect mangoes in her garden, she chuckles and says, ÒKoipan mara jetli Kerio nathi khai shakatuÓ (Nobody can eat as many mangoes as I can!) Doliben looks healthy and has retained most of her teeth. ÒShe would use ‘datun’ (twigs of the Neem tree) as toothbrush to promote hygiene of gums and teeth,Ó says her son. She can even walk properly without using any walking stick. Doliben raised four sons and four daughters. Presently, she lives with her sons in Dhanpura village. ÒI am just happy with having my sons and grandchildren around,Ó says a content Doliben. She has led a very tranquil and serene life. Her father was a farmer who raised six children, Doliben being third among them. She used to work in the farms in her childhood as a support to her father. At the age of 16, she started her married life in Dhanpur (Amirgarh). Since there were no roads and conveyance, she would travel kilometers on foot. ÒI had to go through the jungles to reach Rajkot. As darkness set in, I used to climb a tree with the smallest kid tied tightly to my back and spent whole night above waiting for the sun to rise and start the journey again the next morning,Ó she recalls. Seeing Doliben, many would reckon that part of living to 100 requires having the right personality. She has had no habit of worrying excessively on matters and lives free of stress. She harbours no regrets and expresses contentment with the life she has led. Her life has been an impressive show of strong adjustment and coping skills. In spite of family’s financial predicament, she toiled hard to earn every penny. ÒThough she is hard of hearing and has fading eye sight and memory, her spirit still shines throughÓ, Doliben’s son says. It would have been a Òfairly hard lifeÓ for his mother and her family as they grazed cattle on paddocks where hundreds of rows of houses now stand. From her fading memory she recalls a crop failure resulted in widespread famine, due to which Doliben’s 50 cows and buffaloes lost their lives. ÒWe got stunned seeing the loss of livestock and affliction of villagersÓ, says Doliben grievously, Òbut we didn’t give up and faced the hardship courageously.Ó The other time, punishing rains lashed their village. Doliben’s house couldn’t withstand the nature’s fury. ÒMany trees and muddy houses were swept away. What remained were just some remnants of our houses,Ó says Doliben in her trembling voice. When asked about the difference she sees between previous times and today, she asserts, ÒWhile morals have declined now compared to when I was growing up, some things have changed for the better. I think young people today have easier lives. They don’t have the restrictions we had. We were never left on our own.Ó ÒWomen used to stay home and look after their husband and children, while today they seem to be off everywhere,Ó she says. Out of her fondness for singing, she couldn’t resist on sharing her displeasure about the commencement of music systems. ÒEarlier, we were the ones who ourselves would sing and play the instruments on any occasion, but now tapes (music systems) have dominated over the jubilant trend,Ó she complains. Living a healthy lifestyle, she has nicely secured herself off diseases and has never been to any doctor. Doliben has always relied upon the nutritious diet that consisted of green vegetables, pulses, Banti and Kadhi being her favourite and millet flatbread, complemented with buttermilk and fruits. On being asked if she still asks God for anything she replies, ÒI say my prayers every day and ask God to make me a good and kind person.Ó Her secret to longevity is simple: Simple living, working hard, keeping fit and avoiding a fuss.Ó [SCOUTS : Shelly Singh and Vishesh Sharma, Kota, Rajasthan]
 
Volume No. Honey Bee 27(4) 19, 2016

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