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It’s true when they say that age is just a number and this 100-year-old woman from Assam embodies it in its true spirit. Aruna Mukherjee a known philanthropist runs four vocational art institutes that offer free training in music, painting, sewing and embroidery, knitting and soft toy-making. But for the spirited centenarian work doesn’t stop here and to be honest, it looks like she has no plans of retiring at all. Recently, Mukherjee applied to the Guwahati civic administration for permission to start an old age home.
“The mayor asked who will run the home. I said I will, and loved the look on his face,” Aruna told HIndustan Times. Mukherjee is hoping to start the home for the elderly in October. Is there anything stopping her? Except for slightly failing vision and hearing, no.
Her story is really inspiring. In 1947, after seeing the sufferings of people who fled Bangladesh during partition, this centenarian stopped eating, except tea and biscuits.
“I had seen hundreds of hungry people when they fled Bangladesh and took refuge at Guwahati railway station. I had seen children cry inconsolably for food. I cooked for them and gave them my food. I made paper bags to earn money so I could feed as many as possible. In due course, they migrated to different places, but the feeling that they didn’t get to eat for days together is still with me. That’s why I can’t eat anything except tea and biscuits even today. It is that feeling which made (singer-lyricist-musician) Bhupen Hazarika compose and sing the song ‘Manuhe Manuhar Babe’ (man for mankind). There are many among us who do not have that feeling,” she told The Sunday Standard.
Assamese producer Bobita Sarma, is so touched by the story that she is making a documentary on Aruna’s life. She says, “Her spirit is such that even at the age of 100, she gets desperate about visiting flood-affected areas to help the marooned.”
Born in Dhaka, Mukherjee came to Assam after her marriage some 80 years ago. Her husband, Jadulal Mukherjee was the head of the Chemistry Department at Cotton College, Guwahati. The couple had four sons and a daughter – three of the sons, who worked abroad as scientists died. She is survived by the fourth son and the daughter.