How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were? In a world where age is a yardstick to determine identities, The Times had the opportunity to meet with possibly the youngest 'senior citizen' around.
Meet Mrs. Gooloo Mehta, she turns 80 this year but to her this is just a meaningless number, "I don't feel like I'm part of the so-called older generation at all. Actually it is people who make me aware of the fact that I am turning 80, I still am what I was decades ago," she said with a smile.
Mrs. Mehta’s is based in ‘Bombay’ but visits Kuwait frequently as her daughter’s family resides here. Sitting in the comfort of a home warmed by her tight-knit family, who sat across her while she spoke, Mrs. Mehta let nostalgia take over. "I had a very happy childhood and after I graduated from St. Xavier's College in Bombay, I took up Indian classical music, that’s how I met my wonderful husband."
Being married 55 years is no ordinary feat these days, she said even as Mr. Ratan Mehta promptly produced a sepia toned photograph of a captivating young woman reminiscent of back-in-the day Indian starlets. "I took this picture so many years ago," he said, gesturing towards the image on his iPhone, "She has not changed one bit." Ah, romance.
Over a cup of good, strong chai, Mrs. Mehta explains that aging has not made a great difference in her thinking except that her perspective has grown and now encompasses a wider range.
"I am more attached to people now, I like going out and meeting new folks and I enjoy entertaining and hosting friends."
As part of her philosophy, life is either too short or too long and one needs to live life each day as it comes, remembering that each moment is precious. Though her life is full of wonderful memories,
but as with everyone, life brings its ups and downs and her big turning point came with the loss of a young son years ago. "Everything changed. My whole attitude towards life changed. I realized life is not worth just wasting away, crying and moping around. It is so much more than that," she said, "I decided to take a chance at whatever I get and hang on to living a whole life as much as I can."
After taking up Reiki, she found a place where she could be at peace with herself and everyone around her, “I don’t let things play on my mind. When you think positive nothing bad can happen to you,”
Quoting from the popular book ‘The Secret’, Mrs. Mehta explained that if you truly believe something and focus all your positive energy into that belief, the universe will conspire to give you what you desire.
Mrs. Mehta has, among other things, run a nursery catering to over 200 children as well as a successful parlor spanning over 20 years. “You should love what you do and while you are at it, you got to give it your best, to make it worthwhile.”
As Mrs. Mehta stepped outdoors for a few photographs before sundown, her daughter Shahnaz shared some sentiments, “My mother’s positivity has surely rubbed off on me, we share a very close relationship with open communication and I try to raise my son Shahzad in the same way,” she said. “Incidentally, he gets along better with my mother than with me!”
With a charismatic personality coupled with a youthful free spirit, it would only naturally follow that Mrs. Mehta frequently dabbled in the arts. She is an avid writer of poetry, short stories, letters and feature articles which she contributes to newspapers and online forums — all with a dedicated fan following.
“I most enjoy writing poetry but I am extremely interested in political writing,” she said. “I write everything from poems on love and passion, to God and philosophy. My inspiration usually comes from people around me” she elaborated, inviting me to visit with her to read some poetry together some time, ‘without a recorder, just as a friend’.
Putting on a pair of reading glasses, she graciously began to share one of her most recent.
Where did it go?
It has been my greatest sorrow
My today wasted for tomorrow
Grab the moment, when it comes
Opportunity knocks but once.
Guard that precious moment
So soon it came, so quickly went.
Today was here, I let it go
Waiting, waiting for tomorrow.
So today came and went away
There is little now for me to say
Alas! I was not there when today came
Now I have only myself to blame
Her keen interest in political news has lead to several published articles on issues in the country’s political system, many of which are not received well when dealing with sensitive topics.
“I sometimes write things that don’t sit too well with some people. According to me orthodoxy goes against advancement. What was good a hundred years ago is not good today,” she said emphatically.
In her wise opinion, if we hang on to those age-old beliefs, we can never progress. “There is a trend towards regression,” she said, “Instead of being open minded and open hearted and accepting as many different kinds of people there are, I have noticed more movement backwards.”
Her son-in-law is credited with having brought technology onto her scene, “Shiamak introduced us to computers, to the internet, and to all sorts of new gadgets. We even had a tutor to catch up and eventually got familiar with all the new means of communication and media,” she said in reference to her active life online via forums, Facebook and more.
In conversation, Mrs. Mehta lauds the Indian media, saying they have been doing a commendable job of unearthing many of the issues that our country need to address, and she is an active contributor to this realm of writing.
“Most of my passion for writing stems from my love of reading,” she said, adding that she is too spontaneous a person to actually sit down and write a book, but often finds herself waking up in the middle of the night just to pen a few thoughts, which she later works into her writing.
When asked about how she has managed to maintain such a worry free existence, she said, “I never worry about money, only about health. Family is the only real wealth and I am very rich. I believe one should live life in abundance, not the abundance money brings, but abundance from the heart, where we live life to the fullest.” She added, “One has to live life as it has to be lived. Every moment in your life must count.” I have seen people much younger than us living such old lives and it is a tragedy,” according to Mrs. Mehta, we live in troubled times and the times reflect their energy on us to a great extent, “But before you try to fix anything, look inwards and work towards changing your own faults rather than searching for answers elsewhere.”
Words of wisdom indeed, an inspiration to grow with the times, but stay young forever.