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The Autobiography of a Senior Citizen
By Jimmy Noronha
(Jimmy Noronha, originally from Belloor, Bantwal, has extensively travelled abroad and is now settled at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. In this article he highlights the life of a Senior Citizen who had lived a happy life cultivating over 50 years his small farm in a village in Coastal Karnataka)

October 6, 2013

I was born on 3rd January, 1934 into a farming family in an obscure village with hardly any paved roads to move out. So, the villagers mostly remained confined to one place like one family. There was joy and there was fun all around. We knew no caste or religious barriers where I lived in coastal Karnataka.

I was among the five siblings. Elder to me was a brother, younger to me was another brother and then the last two were sisters. Schooling was difficult as it was far away and the church was farther. Yet my elder brother who stayed at a rich uncle’s house in Kadri had finished his 8th standard in the Higher Elementary School in the village earlier and became a priest after further studies in St. Aloysius College. My younger brother finished his 8th standard and started business in Mijar with another rich uncle and I remained to help my father after I failed in 6th standard, to work in the little piece of land that we had.

I never liked to study, for nothing would get into my head and I was a complete dunce at school.  Farming with father really gave me joy and fulfilment. I enjoyed walking behind the bullocks as I ploughed the earth and enjoyed unearthing the soil that would give us food to survive. I was a born farmer unlike my brothers, for one was too religious unlike me and another was too businesslike again unlike me. I liked to walk behind the bullocks unlike both of them and unearth the soil and sing at times while furrowing. I had a very good voice and whenever I sang behind the bullocks they would look heavenwards and begin to blare with joy. After all they too have some common sense!

Sometimes I would call Abutam to plough and flatten the soil to level the furrows and would sit on the plank that would level the soil after ploughing I would be in the seventh heaven sitting behind the bullocks holding their tails. It made a fantastic sight and was fun, that most other city bred folks were deprived of.

My two younger sisters never wanted to get married unlike me, and they left the house and joined the convent in Mysore and Bangalore. Once I went to see them in Bangalore and I was wonderstruck by the beauty and grandeur of their vast convents and a thought crept into me about joining the priesthood but the other thought of not being allowed to marry, quickly crushed my ambition of jumping into such a misadventure.

You see my father was of a very weak constitution and could no longer do the farming and eventually left all of it on me and soon I made myself a great farmer. I cut the corners of all the hills around and expanded the farm and began to get up before the sun would peep out and would work on the farm and get a good yield as the soil was fertile and water was plenty.

One day my father fell very ill and there were no doctors around in the village. The village doctor was a quack. He simply could not make out what my father was ailing from. When I had got fever sometime earlier he gave me some grey powder and the same powder he gave my father. My poor father took the medicine and as expected he soon succumbed to his illness. Now I was left with my mother. I was like a pillar of support to her and one day my mother said, she was getting older so I must get married.  I immediately agreed for she needed help in the household chores. After all, as a dutiful son, I must agree that she was getting old and I was getting matured, so a wife in the house was a blessing.

I got married to the village “gurkaram’s” daughter Juliana, quite an amazon of a girl was she,  and I called her “Julie” with a tinge of love in it. Soon, God blessed us in quick succession with four sons and then a daughter.  As the mouths to feed increased,   so did my zeal to turn out more food out of my land and one after another I sent all my children to school. I did not want them to be like me, run after the bullocks and sing songs “Thamde Roza” and so on.

I gave my children good education and later higher education too and money was not a dearth, thanks to the yield that I got in plenty from my farm. The boys got educated and one after another left the house. Soon the time came for my daughter to get married and she wanted to marry the boy from the village who was working in a bank in Hampankatta. I was delighted, that the boy was a “shiklolo”, but used to drink. So what? Everyone in my village drinks, I can’t be beastly to her, so I gave her hand to the boy of her choice. My two sons soon went to the Gulf, another one studied very hard to be an engineer and went to Gulf and from there he went to Australia. My sons were clever you know and they had my Julie’s brain you see?

My mother by now had turned very old and said her time had come to follow my dad. She was really suffering and one morning she never woke up. She died in her sleep. I was sad but thanked God for sparing her the ordeal of the pain and suffering of old age.

My wife and I were now getting older and suddenly found that there was no one to look after the farm as I was now getting older and weaker by the day. One day my wife complained about pain in her chest and by now I could see the ramifications of modernity all about my village. A well qualified doctor had established modern clinic in my village and the moment he saw my wife I could see some change in his aspect. He checked her B.P. and advised complete bed rest and prescribed some medicines.  She had a weak heart and instead of taking rest she went to draw water from the well and there she collapsed and died. I was heartbroken and now I was lonely. My boys were scattered all about and only my daughter would occasionally visit me. Poor child she too acquired several of her own problems with what her husband increasingly drinking by the day.

Old and frail that I was, as the time had taken its toll on me, I could only get fresh energy the moment I plunged into my farm. There were plenty of coconut trees, arec nut trees, betel leaves, fruits of various hues and denominations – There were jack fruits, mangoes, chickoos, you ask and you have it. But there was no one to eat besides my daughter, her children and me.

 I was by now 74 and was bereft of any mental or physical energy to slog in the fields. My two sons were in the Gulf, one in Australia. The youngest one became a “Gar Zavayi” in Parangipet. I asked my sons to come and take over the property but none of them was interested. Finally my son in Australia sent me a visa to come and stay with him.

I went to Australia and stayed with my son in Sydney. In the morning before I got up my son and his wife would leave the house for work and I would sit alone and have my breakfast. His children would speak only English. It was some foreign accent and I could not understand a word of it.  They did not know Konkani and I did not know English and I became a dumb show piece around. I was lost in my own world. There was not even one percent of the warmth and friendship that I experienced all through my life in the village. There was no one to talk to. I spent most of my time in Australia doing some house work. Even my son was not the same as he used to be. He had no time for me.

Anyway, after a stay of almost a year I returned to my village, a fully shattered man. Today I am an old man. My wife is dead and gone, my brothers have also become very old, my daughter hardly ever comes, for she has children to take care of and her husband has taken to drinking and taken VRS.

My land is a piece of wilderness, it has grown wild with weeds and I can no longer walk into the farm. Partly I must blame the lure of Gulf as the land that I cultivated kept me very happy for well over fifty years and there was no dearth of cash or corn. I was a happy family man once upon a time long ago but now today I am 79 and I can see that my end is close at hand and like a man groping in the dark I spend the rest of my days wishing that on no account I should be bedridden for it would be the worst catastrophe that an old man can ever face. A former farm hand Baptist (Bathu) is in charge of me and my house, but bereft of my sons around, my life is hollow, I have resigned myself to my fate that is full of gloom and I look forward to my doom which is not so far away.

 

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Comments on this article
Autobiography of a Senior Citizen., jimmy NoronhaThursday, November 21, 2013
No, this is not my autobiography. I have absolutely no connection to the story. It is the imaginary story relevant to a man from a farming family.
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Reena, mangaloreSunday, November 10, 2013
Is this really your story?? Would be interesting to know
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Joe Gonsalves, MangaloreThursday, October 10, 2013
What an inspiring article. Mr. Noronha - even thought I m much older to you, I admire you for your courage of conviction. You stood by your parents and I feel that your children should stand by you now.

My good wishes are with you.

Joe Gonsalves
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Rosario Fernandes, KallianpurWednesday, October 09, 2013
Dear Jimmy, your story is similar to my fathers. We are 8 children,
six sisters and two brothers in the middle. My father too was a poor farmer, BUT gave minimum education to all. All of us loved
and supported him financially, but
in his final years he had to live in 'Home for the aged'. Because he
refused to live in cities like Bombay, Bharain, U.S.A.
He wanted his own village life.
We were helpless.
The moral of the story is: No matter how poor one is, whether farmer, Mason or carpenter
little flexibility in life style &
changes along with the time is very important. All of us when we reach our fifties, must think of our seventies and beyond.
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S N Bangs, ThannirubhaviWednesday, October 09, 2013
Thank You MR. NOronha. Article brought back all the memories of my "PROBU" friends of the my village.
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Clifford Cutinho, Bellore /Mangalore / now in USATuesday, October 08, 2013
Dear
Jimmy,
I believe you know we met long back
Wish you all the Best for this article. When we will meet once again ? pl reply.
Once again all the Best.
Cliffy.
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Sunil, Toronto/MudigereTuesday, October 08, 2013
sacrifice your life, please do not expect anything in return this is what we learn from our Lord. Be close to Jesus and you will be able to handle your cross with a smile.
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Tony Crasta, MangaloreTuesday, October 08, 2013
Times have changed, and so the age-old traditional norms and family values. The modern young family where both the husband and wife is required to work in order to make a comfortable living, cannot be expected to look after their parents as well like olden times, as they have enough burden and problems of their own both at their work place and at home with their young children. So, we, the so called Senior Citizens, should plan for our retirement and looking after ourselves during our evening hours, without depending upon our children. After all, there are a number of Nursing and Old Age Homes are now available and one should plan their living there in case they are not able to look after themselves.

In my opinion, the parents responsibility towards their children comes to an end when they have brought them up in the best possible manner, giving them education according to their ability, and support their children till they secure an employment. From then on, the parents should concentrate and save for their own future, especially to take of themselves during their evening years, without thinking slightest about the possibility that one day their children will take care of them.

By the way, this is a nice article by Jimmy Noronha which gives a lot food for thought to the Seniors, and a gentle reminder as well, about the reality of life, especially the old age.
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A. S. Mathew, U.S.A.Monday, October 07, 2013
Indeed, what you have written is the plain reality of life being faced with the older generation. We did the best for our children, sacrificed our time-pleasures-energy and everything else of life for them but in return, when we face total isolation and lack of empathy, it will hurt us the most.
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Antony D'Cunha, Permude/MuscatMonday, October 07, 2013
Well scripted story as these realities of life keep haunting many senior citizens of our homeland.
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Severine Furtado, MumbaiMonday, October 07, 2013
I enjoy reading your articles and I always read them till end in one go. I Pray that God grants you good health.
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Wilfred rego, Siddakatte / OmanMonday, October 07, 2013
There are many senior citizens living alone in cities becoz they children are away. Some churches/ parishes are started "day care" like social working group.But one day we will all reach that stage .
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Dr Urban D'Souza, Professor School of Medicine, Udyavar/MalaysiaMonday, October 07, 2013
A complete reflection of every senior citizen of present time. I congratulate Mr. Jimmy for a realistic fate of every senior member of our present time. My analysis is that, the old man should have been wise enough to produce a useless son and to retain him back along with him so that he fields never dried up nor he was lonely.
There are enough reversal of roles in Mangalore. The cunning old man of cities would have attracted his son in law a buisnessman as ghar zavain and useless son to accompany him in his old age. Income of son in law and care of useless son.
Many old Catholic parents have become lonely though they have 8 to 9 children! Fate! Invited by self by educating all the sons to the best! They are in gulf, USA, UK, Australia with their darlings and English speaking Children
God bless
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Francis J. Saldanha, Moodubelle/BahrainSunday, October 06, 2013
Mr. Jimmy Noronha’s articles are always with full of substance and wisdom from someone who is genuine and down to earth. A must read for the young and old. Jimmy Sir, as always highlighting his own experiences for the benefit of every reader and putting forward all his life long experiences and sharing it with others in a simple yet meaningful way is what makes me wonder why on earth most of the senior citizens has to go through this phase in their life. Good one Sir, Waiting for the next one on Daijiworld soon!
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geoffrey, hat hillSunday, October 06, 2013
Even though the central character or the protagonist of this story is sure to draw lot of sympathy from readers, none of the other characters is wrong from his/her own perspective. This is just harsh and inevitable reality of life. Another excellent piece by Mr. Noronha anyway.
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Molly Munro, Abu DhabiSunday, October 06, 2013
Very nicely written article on your life’s journey with its ups and downs. You also show us that many a times we have no control over our life and its happenings, we make our choices, but rest is all destiny. Cheer up Mr. Noronha, you are not alone, let go of bad memories and cherish the good ones, may God give you strength to continue the life’s journey with good health and happiness…….
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Daniel D'Sa, Nitte - Karkala / Abu DhabiSunday, October 06, 2013
Dear Jimbab, As always, I enjoy reading your articles. This article is like true pictures of what is all happening in the world around. I wish and pray that God grants you and your family the best of health and happiness in life.
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Raj, UdupiSunday, October 06, 2013
Thank you Mr.Noronha for beautiful article.You are privileged to live 79yrs which is denied to many in today's fast world.Many elderly parents boast their children are in Australia, even though they can have a better living here taking care of their parents. You are an experienced man, i wish you a good health & happy life.
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Bollu, MangaloreSunday, October 06, 2013
Jimmy Sir..
I always enjoying reading your article. Whatever you write..it's come from your heart. It's called 'pureness'..where nests God. Very nicely described about your life. Enjoyed words like doctor was a quack, shiklolo,Gar Zavayi. I pray to God..to give you Healthy Life..for rest of your life. It's what I meant it. God Bless you Sir..
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Subramanyam Bhat, KasaragodSunday, October 06, 2013
Dear Mr.Noronha...thanks for another nice one from your pen..your articles are unique..I always read them till end in one go...they make me emotional..!!
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aloysia pinto, Surathkal/BombaySunday, October 06, 2013
Thank you Mr. Noronha, a beautiful thought provoking article. It could be the autobiography of many senior citizens who will empathize with you. God bless you.
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