Sometimes it is hard to associate old age and beauty, specially when the old age in question is actually 92 years. That is ancient by all standards. Isn't it? So what comes to mind when you hear 92 years? Scantily clad scalp with a handful of sparkling silver strands. Texture - texture and texture. As in well defined wrinkles on skin that hangs loose on a thin frame, hard hearing, poor eyesight and immobility. Well, it is pretty much how I imagined it till I met this nonagenarian beauty.
I found out her name in our second meeting. Kumudamma. So Kumudamma can give Aarti a run for her money in enthusiasm and curiosity department. Her gaze looked preoccupied but she spoke pristine English. Yeah, English of all the languages which made my interaction with the Tamil speaking beauty possible. I found on in our eventual meetings that she speaks Hindi too with the same ease. She used to narrate her visits to the USA. The way she went to New Orleans for MadriGras and saw Niagara, Disney land and all tourist attractions in the USA for that matter. She used to ask endless questions and tell endless stories though some of them were repetitive. Her zeal never died out though...she would tell her twentieth story with the same animation as she would tell her first. From our conversation I'd learnt about her Doctor daughter and son and numerous grand kids and great grand kids.
She would sit there on the garden bench every evening, the garden that looked like a mini oasis in the concrete jungle of Mumbai. "What a wonderful place to be" she would exclaim - looking at the expanse of the lush green lawn before us.
One day I helped her stand. She stood tall though she wasn't very tall:-) The texture of her skin felt like that of a plush toy. She was as frail as a new born, as curious as a toddler, as inquisitive as a child, as enthusiastic as a teenager, as active as a young mom and as wise as a 92 year old. Kumudamma taught me one thing - that age is indeed a number and a life well lived has more to it than a huge landmark birthday.
She taught me to look at life from a different perspective. To actually stop and enjoy the cool evening breeze or to be genuinely interested in the person you are talking to. She personifies to me beauty, strength and a fighting spirit. Above all, her love for life is infectious.
The many lines on her face and body unfolded to me the joys and sorrows she must have lived, the love she must have spread and the inspiration she had given to numerous people like me that had crossed her path.
My ubiquitous camera captured a few of her images. "You are beautiful" I meant and exclaimed as I took a close shot of hers. "Thank you" she giggled with stars twinkling in those pre-occupied eyes. I am sure I did not imagine that color in her cheeks as she thanked me:-)
pic 1 - Kumudamma lounging in the garden amid the concrete around.
pic 2 - The beauty herself.