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  • Writer's pictureSruti Mohapatra


(In Haridwar, 2003)

My first image of Bibi* had left an impression forever. A smile spread on her fair face, one that would have dazzled the most beautiful of Miss World contestants, her spirits were as towering as her thoughts and faith. She lived for the excitement of living. It was and had been her life, ever loving, ever giving and ever helpful. As I looked up into the happy and contented face of Bibi I could feel that she had earned each gray hair and wrinkle. Her spirits reflected the gift of aging, a life seasoned with wit, humour, and jest for life, inner courage, compassion, love and strength. Perhaps, Longfellow had summed up the aging experience with someone like bibi in his mind: ‘Age is opportunity no less, than youth itself, though in another dress; and the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.’

Returning from the Ganga ghat I had observed her talking to one and all, sharing in their troubles, lending a helping hand, offering advice and a shoulder, to whoever wanted. She told me myriad stories. Each an adventure. Each brimming with wittiness and laughter.

Her mind delving into her vibrant past From the rich reservoir of her experiences She brought out pearls for me…..

Living through it all again……..

From Agra to a ‘loaded revolver’

‘From Himalayas to the Nepal ‘thief’ survivors….

Moments illumined, glowing in the brilliance of her humour

Fleeting memories kept me laughing, us all

And were born unforgettable, forever hours

I went to sleep reminiscing on Bibi’s attitude towards life and living. At the age of 90 she was far more active than any 16 years old! She had no regrets in life. At the end of the day was ever thankful to HIM for his blessings. I remembered many of my old relatives who are scared of death. The smallest of ailment lets them make frantic calls to my mother as if they would breathe their last the next moment! A cold is ‘inflamed lungs and serious pulmonary tract infection’, and a mere backache ‘drying up of vital body fluids and dying tissues’. I remember a batch mate from my university days who wanted to end her life before she turned fifty. Because she did not want gray hairs and wrinkles!!!! And these days the innumerable cures, therapies and lotions to keep the skin younger!!!!! Does fighting aging make sense? After all it is a losing battle, our body does die eventually. With every breath life force is fading.

How can we fight aging and still be vibrantly alive, we will keep dying every living moment……….so many deaths? Bibi is an epitome of being alive, aging gracefully and growing younger and more animate with every passing moment. GOD, our creator had been really sincere when he created bibi for he had produced a masterpiece……a truly humane ‘human’ and an exceptionally happy work.

There was something beguiling in bibi

Here was the celebration of human life……..

*Bibi is in her heavenly abode.


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