In her mid-eighties, the demeanour of Malati Joshi of Vile Parle defies the cliches of an elderly woman.
“Life’s been good,” says Joshi, swaying in the kitchen of her flat, stirring vegetables. “I enjoy household chores, especially cooking,” she adds with a wink.
Joshi’s husband, Vishnu, passed away in 1990. The couple had no children. A recent study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai shows that among elderly couples, the women live longer than their husbands. It was in 1955 that Joshi moved from South Mumbai to Vile Parle. Of nearly 2,000 people who moved into Parleshwar Society then, she says most are dead. “But I have two close friends in the society — Usha Kelkar, 85, and Prabha Lele, 90. All three women were widowed in their sixties.” “Today, I let out one room in my home to youngsters who come to the city for corporate jobs. Presently, three youngsters share home with me and they’ve become like family,” she says. Joshi says she is content now, having witnessed the spring and autumn of life. “Everyday, when I’m done with my daily chores, I plonk into my armchair and chant in peace,” she says.