Finding purpose in life at the age of 65
An inspiring story of Anita Agarwal (Khyaal Community Member)
”My name is Anita Agarwal. I am from Kolkata. My age is 69 years. I spent my childhood in Amritsar, Punjab in a large middle-class family with grandparents, parents, four sisters and one brother. I shared a great bond with my siblings. There were so many of us that we never needed friends to surround ourselves with. My father owned a chemical business and my mother was a home maker. I studied till B.A. in Amritsar, Punjab. Just after completing my degree, I was married in 1974 at the young age of 19 into a big joint family of 16. Later I was blessed with two children, a son and a daughter.
Settling into a new family together had its challenges. There were certain expectations of me after marriage and I did not find joy in being limited to household chores. I was interested in art, crafts and music from childhood. I loved to paint and listen to songs on the radio. I never missed turning on the radio for even one day. At home we were taught embroidery, sewing and knitting.
After marriage, we lived in Central Avenue in Kolkata. Later, in 1989, after 15 years, we moved from a joint family setup to a nuclear one in Ballygunj in Kolkata. The three families, that of my brothers-in-law and ours moved to different apartments in the same building. So even though we lived in separate apartments, we were all together.
The nuclear family setup gave me the freedom to pursue my interests. My children were now grown up and I had a lot of time to myself. I attended various courses and learned the harmonium, singing, flower arrangement and terracotta. My daughter got married in 2000 and my son in 2003.
Unfortunately, my husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2004 at the age of 52.
It was getting worse day by day and I tried all medical and spiritual
treatments for him, hoping for a cure. I was very close to my husband and
his condition left in me dismay. It was painful to see him suffer every day. I was angry, sad and frustrated. I slowly slipped into depression. This was the most difficult time in my life. Along with that, my youngest sister was diagnosed with cancer. This broke my heart. She died in 2008.
In the midst of all this, I found solace in my Bhagwat Geeta reading group. I always turned to the social worker who led this group. He was my friend and guide.
After 10 years my husband passed away in 2014. This left a deep void inside me. 6 months passed. Slowly and gradually, I tried to move on. My friend suggested me to teach art to underprivileged children. I tried my best. I taught paper quilling to them. From these children, 3 girls were very proficient in the art. I started a small business called "Anisat Creations" to sell these artworks. Those three girls helped me with the work. I was 65 years old. We made gift items like designer envelopes, greeting cards, gift boxes etc. Slowly the sales started. My daughter helped me set everything up. She took care of the online part of the business where she made digital products like digital invitation cards and other things.
I was doing this only to keep myself engaged. We were financially sound and making money was not the primary motivator. So, I decided to donate everything we earned from my business to charity. I have always donated the amount to the Koshika Eye Foundation in Delhi. This foundation performs free eye surgeries and juvenile heart surgeries for the needy.
Working for a noble cause gave me peace and tranquillity. My small business gave me a purpose in life. At the same time, I turned to meditation. In 1998, I had completed a spiritual meditation course. So, I decided to start meditating again. I also read a lot of books about it. I do the mediation course every year. I meditate for at least 1 hour every day. I learned to let go and move on. I finally felt peaceful and happy inside.
My son, daughter, daughter-in-law and my grandchildren have supported me all this time. I live with my son. I love spending time with my grandchildren. I have developed a positive attitude towards life.
One advice that I would like to give my fellow seniors: There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up." - Anita Agarwal (Khyaal Community Member)