Elderly in Bangladesh: Tara Adhikary

By Sabya van Elswijk,

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Aroni brings us to her former neighbour, or ‘auntie’ as she calls her. Tara Adhikary is her name, and she has come to Bangladesh from Jamsitpur, India after she married in 1951. She had her two sons here, and lived in this neighbourhood for many years. This is Mirpur 10, where many Christians live together, and a lot of churches are established.  Now one of her sons lives with his wife on the other side of the apartment, and one son lives abroad.

Her husband has died six years ago, and since that time she feels very alone. In her living room her walls are filled with photos of her husband, together with their sons when they were young, and in the middle their wedding picture. She welcomes us all, and apologizes for not having food or chocolates for our son. The wife of her son sends her food everyday, what she eats as lunch. She used to go out and do some shopping before, and go to church regularly. Now she has too much pain in her legs and hips to go out and descend the 7 stairs to her apartment.

Aroni tells about her childhood memories: Tara knows her since she was just a baby, and they lived on the ground floor of the building. Tara was always growing plants on the roof of the building, or cooking Indian food, to bring to her neighbours. When the children wanted to cook something, she helped them. At Christmas time Tara always lights candles in the whole staircase, just as her mother did when she was young in India.

When we show her the portraits of other elderly around the world, she is amazed and likes the Ipad, and she goes through the slideshow herself. She comments on the faces, or surroundings, “nice, beautiful, old, young”. She sits down in her grey Sari, sitting majestically straight looking at Martijn, while he photographs her. When we go, we have been there talking for a few hours, and she says she enjoyed our visit. Normally she only has the television to listen to, and as she says “her tongue lays silent in her mouth.”

Her portrait will be published soon, together with her life story.

 

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