Assam’s 100 Year Old Woman:
Assam’s 100-year-old woman, Aruna Mukherjee who has been surviving on tea and biscuits from last 70 years, has applied for starting an old age home. Aruna was born in Dhaka and settled in Assam after her marriage, some 80 years ago. Her husband, Jadulal Mukherjee was the head of the Chemistry Department at Cotton College in Guwahati. He passed away a few years back. The couple had four sons and a daughter. Three of the sons who worked as scientist abroad died. Her fourth son and daughter live in Canada.
When she approached the civic administration to seek permission to start the old age home, she was asked by the mayor, “Who will run it?” She replied that she will. She is expecting the start the home for the elderly in October. Presently, she runs four institutes that offer free training in vocational courses. She has a knack for fine arts, music, knitting, sewing, embroidery, painting, soft toy making, and sometimes she takes classes as well.
In 1947, Aruna stopped eating everything except tea and biscuits as she was disturbed by witnessing the suffering of people who fled Bangladesh following the partition. She said in an interview with The Sunday Standard that she has seen hundreds of hungry people, and children cry inconsolably when they fled Bangladesh and took refuge at Guwahati Railway Station. Aruna would cook for them and gave them her food. She made paper bags to earn money to feed as many as possible.
She still laments over it. The feeling that the refugees didn’t get to eat for days together is still with her and that’s why she couldn’t eat anything except tea and biscuits even till date.
Aruna gave a message of “Live for mankind” on her 100th birthday on 31 August 2016. She has no diseases despite being a centenarian and eating sparsely for the past seven decades. She does most of the household chores and is active enough to struggle her failing vision and hearing.
“Her spirit is unbeatable that even at the age of 100,she gets anxious about the flood affected areas and gets desperate to meet the survivors,” says Bobita Sharma, a Former beauty pageant winner, and producer who is making a documentary on Aruna, Assam’s 100-year-old woman’s life.