Mumbai: Ex-nurse celebrates her 100th birthday amid COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: 15 May, 2020 07:33 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Rolanda D'Souza of Girgaum brought in her 100th birthday, celebrating it along with neighbours in the age of social distancing

Rolanda D'Souza cuts her birthday cake
Rolanda D'Souza cuts her birthday cake

Like a burst of sunshine on a drab, overcast morning, Khotachiwadi in Girgaum rose in celebration to mark resident Rolanda D'Souza's 100th birthday on May 13.

"These were celebrations with social distancing," laughed D'Souza's daughter Barbara D'Souza, who lives with her mother and sister Maria Fatima D'Souza at their home in the heritage village with its distinctive old Portuguese style architecture.

"There were good wishes, congratulations pouring in by telephone; mum cannot hear well because of age. Yet, she was thrilled to see everybody on video conference calls. My three brothers settled outside, Diogo, Rufus and Marshall, were in spirit and on video in our house that day, wishing their mother on completion of a milestone," Barbara said, adding that her mother is still mobile and can do all the basic housework.

Khotwchiwadikars saluted this spirit on her birthday, standing outside House no 32A, located behind the famous Ideal wafers store, and sang for her, strumming the guitar. A neighbour made a two-tier cake for Rolanda, with 100 on top. A banner saying: 'Happy 100th birthday' was put up at home.

Neighbours made a PowerPoint presentation of clippings of all her previous birthdays which they sent over the phone. A residential zoom chat saw several joining in, to wish 'Rolanda aunty' with the song 'I hope you live not just to 103 but 123…" also played for her.

Sharp and smart at 100

Neighbours also made a quiz about 'How well do you know our Centenarian?' with questions like: 'name any two mouth-watering food items she sells…"

while neighbours serenade her outside her house
While neighbours serenade her outside her house

"Mom used to sell pickles and a lemon juice concentrate, which was very popular," said Barbara.

Longevity runs in the family for Rolanda, a former nurse. Her mother lived till 102, and also shared Rolanda's habit of finishing a meal with a sweet or fruit, every day. She also knits at this age, and makes appliqué patchwork pieces. Said Barbara, "When the younger identical twin brothers (Gary and Greg) of fashion designer James Ferreira, who is a Khotachiwadikar, called mom to wish her, she could distinguish who was who at once. Not many, including me, can do so."

Life's philosophy

Rolanda, who lost her husband years ago, has been keeping herself abreast of the pandemic news, on television, and is moved and proud of her professional community of nurses as they sacrifice in these times.

"I believe in treating oneself at once when unwell. I will tell my daughters anytime I feel under the weather, call the doctor, I am unwell. I do not think: I will not trouble somebody. Treat yourself in time, and most importantly take your medicines without a fuss, so you do not trouble anybody later," said the salt-haired, feisty dynamo. "Remember you are never too old for anything," she signed off.

Day in May that Rolanda celebrated her 100th birthday

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First Published: 15 May, 2020 07:04 IST

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