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Category CENTENARIAN
 
Title Just two hundred kilometres in more than a century
 
Details Two words that describe the life of the still active 115 year oldMudibenPandyaare”simplicity and resilience”. Don’t be fooled by her wrinkled and frail figure, for Mudiben can independently manage her daily chores with ease. Her alertness and agility are evident in the responses to our questions. She has nearly lost her eyesight with age. Though Mudiben admits to loss of memory a bit, her logic and understanding are still very sharp. Born in the village of Timana in the district of Bhavnagar, Mudiben has spent most of her life working hard on the farm as well as in the household. Married at the age of 12, Mudiben lost her husband even before she could step into her in-laws’ house. Tragedy struck again at the tender age of 16 when she lost her mother. Being the eldest of seven siblings, Mudiben took up the responsibility forher four brothers and three sisters. Her father owned 100 bigha of land in the village, which was used for farming. Since childhood Mudiben has been busy working for her family and at the farm. Presently, Mudiben continues to live in her father’s house, with her brother Hargovindbhai’s family. She misses Hargovindbhai’s two sons who have joined the army. The farthest Mudiben has travelled is Junagadh, where she went for her father’s last rites. According to Mudiben, life was relatively simpler in the olden times. She reminisces that food consisted mostly of sorghum bread, horse gramor kidney bean curry, curry of flat bean, pigeon pea, and banyan tree fruit, amongst others. Her diet now consists of pearl millet, wheat, milk, etc. She claims she has started consuming tea only in the last 20 years. Today, she yearns to have sorghum in her meals. In her younger days, she designed and stitched her own clothes and also did intricate embroideries. It will come as a surprise that even at this age Mudiben’s teeth are not only intact, they are healthy too! She uses Neem twigs, Babul twigs, ‘karanj’ (Pongamiapinnata) and ‘kambod’ to keep them healthy. In sharp contrast to the wide range of hair care products available in the market today, Mudiben says that in olden days she cleaned her hair with sand from the snake’s burrow. Mudiben shared some valuable grandma’s home remedies. For headaches, place a wet cloth dipped in salty water on the forehead. Also, crushed hip tiles were used to treat boils. She believes that now pollution affects her as she often has colds and headaches. She believes that the land is warmer due to extensive use of chemicals, and laments that animals such as deer, blue bull, antelope, fox, etc., have become rarer. She reminisces that Diwali celebrations meant lighting two ‘diyas’ in front of the gate and sweets such as ‘Lapsi’, ‘Surmo’ and ‘Gharis’. Mudiben remembers doing garba all night during ‘Navratri’. She recollects that the price of 500ml ghee was seven annas, whereas, gold was six rupees for five grams. She told us that currency in olden times consisted of Queen’s coins, silver coins, ‘Mudiya’, ‘Chautaliya’, etc. Hermantra for a long life is work, eat well and worshipGod. She feels that her job hereisdoneand now shemust go. Should she?
 
Volume No. Honey Bee 25(3) 7, 2014

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