Age is just a number for Lakshmi Maity, a 102-year-old vegetable seller who, for the past five decades, has never let financial constraints come in the way of her family’s basic needs.
Every day, Laskhmi Maity, a resident of Jogiberh village in West Bengal’s Purba Medinipur district, buys vegetables in bulk at Kolaghat as early as 4 am, loads them on a rickshaw and heads to the local market to sell the stock.
“After my husband died some 48 years ago, we had to go without food for days. To keep the house running, I took to vegetable selling. My son was only 16 years’ old at the time.
“Back then, some days would get really difficult, especially when I fell ill. I, however, always tried my best to meet the needs of my family,” she said.
Over the last decade, Lakshmi Maity’s fortunes have improved, thanks to the backing of NGO HelpAge India, which has floated ESHG (elderly self-help group) scheme for women like her.
The centenarian’s family home now has new furnishings and a television set.
“Our situation changed for better eight years ago when the NGO provided Rs 40,000 as loan for setting up a tea-snacks vending business for my son,” she explained.
Beaming with pride, Gour, Ms Maity’s 64-year-old son, said his mother is “an incarnation of Goddess Durga”.
“Not only has she fed me, but also my children. She financed my daughter’s marriage, got us a pucca house, and cleared her loans, too.
“In most cases, a son takes care of his old mother. My mother, however, never depended on me, she is an iron woman,” Gour said.
Flaunting his android handset, her grandson, Subrata, 28, said, “What my father couldn’t buy for me, my grandmother did. I can’t be prouder.” Lakshmi Maity, when asked if she had plans to retire, said that she has “not given it a thought” as yet.
Abhijit Sen, a senior official of HelpAge India, said women like the centenarian are an inspiration for the young and the old alike.
“Ms Maity made sure she repaid her loans on time. She is one of the many women we have reached out to with monetary aid under the ESHG scheme,” he added
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)