Age Is Just A Number

Age Is Just A Number

At 85 years, most people would be either simply relaxing at home or incapacitated in some way so as to not be able to perform most of their duties by themselves. Can you imagine someone, then, who not only does all her work by herself and is actively involved in teaching and various social activities, but does all this with the functionality of just one hand? Meet Sarala Chelvaraj from Bengaluru, a lady of immense determination, talent, humility and so very affectionate.

Though she doesn't have the use of her right hand due to polio affliction at a very early age, Sarala lives alone, does her own cooking, climbs stairs at least four times a day and even follows her passion of teaching by taking tuitions at home.

Sarala's father V. A. Chelvaraj encouraged her to complete schooling in Clarence High School and then graduate from Mount Carmel College. Later, she enrolled for teacher’s training in Vijay Teacher’s College, Richmond Town. Her father and teachers advised her to pursue teaching especially in a school which would not only value her qualities but also where she would be well placed throughout her tenure and have an everlasting bond with them.

Sarala secured a job in St. Bede’s High School. Her beautiful journey of teaching was imparting knowledge combined with affection and understanding. And it was reciprocated in full measure there by the nuns, colleagues and students. To her it was not just a job but 26 years of pure joy in the same school. She never once regretted her decision of going with her father’s advice.

She later also acquired a degree in M.A. Economics, which qualified her to teach the PUC. With her thirst for learning not yet quenched, she passed M.Ed. and a course in Kannada language too.

Her mother Piroja Bai, a multi-talented mother of 7 children, was a pillar of strength to Sarala right from her tender age, which she needed a lot. A wonderful mother, who apart from her motherly duties, and keeping a lovely, happy home, found time to cook delicious varieties of food, pursue needlework, flower arrangements and rangoli.

Sarala’s maternal grandfather imbibed in his grandchildren a love for reading beyond school books.

Nearer to retirement and after, Sarala, taking after her mother’s art talent, developed a passion for making rangolis. She creates her own designs and innovates with colour mixing and conveying different messages for various occasions and events. She participated in competitions organised by the Mudaliar Sangam and few others, always coming out a winner at different levels. She even got a chance to exhibit her special art in the UK, winning prizes as well.

Sarala joined the Lion’s Club of Bangalore Cantonment when she was 70 years old and contributed actively to all their service projects enthusiastically. She also served as Secretary and then President. Later, with the help of her close friends and sisters, she started a new club, The Lions Club of Anubanda. Beginning with a membership of 23, it has now grown to become a very prestigious club in the District! Their service activities include regular health checks, vision tests, speech/hearing tests for school kids and adults, women’s empowerment, and education and scholarships for underprivileged kids.

Sarala’s earlier passion in art led her to get a Diploma in drawing. She used this skill for making exquisite rangolis. She participated in various competitions of the magazines Ananda Vikatan, Mangai Malar, and Aval Vikatan, winning prizes in all.

Polio did not affect her lifestyle at all. She faced it head on and led as normal a life as anyone else. In fact, she has a wonderful aesthetic sense, drawing admiration for her hairstyles, and her excellent, elegant taste in clothes. She has not only lived her life joyfully and completely but her zest, immense affection and vivaciousness touches all around her.

Sarala says, "I learnt to manage and manage well. I do it differently but all by myself. With the arrival of winter, aches and pains make me take help from my maid to a certain minimum extent but the rest of the effort is fully my own, suitable to my ways. My desire is to be as normal as others and I will say with all humility that I have achieved it very successfully."

Sarala’s inspiring story has the most invaluable message of “Cherish what you have, and never mourn what you don’t have!”