Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Age is in your mind

Age is in your mind has always been my motto and what better example than the story of this 106 year old Gandhian can I find to prove it?

Saraswathy Ramaswamy was born on January 1, 1900 in Secunderabad, India and soon after birth, being a girl child, she was abandoned. But fate had something else for her in store. The midwife, who delivered her, found her, brought her back to her parents and her life-journey began which is still continuing. Some excerpts from Rediff where the story appeared:

At the age of 7, two major events occurred in her life. She began going to school, and she was married to a 12-year-old boy named Ramaswamy. She stayed with her parents until she completed her Bachelors degree though, travelling across India. "I was sent to my husband's house when I attained puberty at 18. It was the custom."

When Gandhi came with his wife Kasturba to Nagpur, where Saraswathy then lived, she went with her friends to meet them. "I asked Kasturba what I could do for the country. She asked me if I knew how to use a charkha. I said I didn't. After teaching me, she told me to spread the knowledge to others."

Following Kasturba's instructions, Ramaswamy and his wife packed their bags and moved to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. There, Saraswathy taught students to spin and also took tuitions, while her husband organised meetings. Over the next five years, she taught English, Tamil and mathematics to at least 500 children

It was remarkable for a woman of that time to complete a bachelor degree and then teach English and Mathematics.

If August 15, 1947 was a day of joy for all of them, January 30, 1948 was a day she still mourns. Not only because Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, but because she lost her husband and three sons in the riots that followed. Her husband was shot at; her children, crushed to death. She was in Mysore to give birth to her fourth child. On hearing the news, she rushed to identify the bodies of her loved ones. Shortly thereafter, she lost her daughter to chickenpox. "I lost my family for the sake of my country. I shouldn't be crying," she says."

What a brave woman, wife and mother she was!!! Really an inspirational story. Of course, there were thousands and thousands of such courageous women were there in India at that; we simply don't know about them. And, there also exists such fearless women now. To be honest, I am amazed by the wives/mothers of men astronauts/cosmonauts, explorers and soldiers (of course, due respect should also be given to the fearless husbands/fathers of women in those occupations, but well this is a blog for women), how cheerfully they encourage their husbands/sons to excel in their occupations/careers when they know that their loved ones can die any moment!

From 1949 to 2004, she made Pattukottai her home, teaching children until she reached the age of 104. She was sure about one thing though: she would never go to the government for pension or any such concessions. That was like begging for her. Many of us Indians, especially some filthy-rich cricketers and celebreties, should learn this lesson from her .

A remarkable life. I wish I could meet her and talk to her.


  1. hmmmm, really amazing lady! thx for sharing.

  2. Yes, indeed amazing. Perhaps words are not there to describe her.