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Life IS beautiful

Parvathi Ranganathan is painting beautifully at 80. V. RAMANATHAN meets this ne'er-say-die lady.


WHAT WOULD you say about an 80 year old, who despite being afflicted by Parkinson's disease, paints beautifully, is never bored and is at complete peace with life?

Admirable, of course.

Born in 1925, Parvathi Ranganathan, who was leading a comfortable life with her two children, in Thiruvananthpuram,was driven by the desire to do something worthwhile in life and to leave something to posterity. In 1979, while in the USA, where her daughter was living,she joined an art school to learn the basics of painting. Soon, she began painting canvases, which she gifted to her friends there. She enjoyed the back-in-school feeling and heartily interacted with students half her age. Living high in her apartment, all she could see were high-rise buildings and the cars on the streets below. She yearned for the green, open spaces of back home, the sounds and sights of Kerala. The best way out was to express herself through her paintings, which she began in earnest. Soon, her works, being of a different nature, drew attention from others. Friends and mentors lauded her efforts. They helped her organise exhibitions of her paintings, where her works found many takers.

She, as an artiste had arrived in her own little way.


Today, a quarter of a century later, at 80 and stricken with Parkinson's, Parvathy Ranganathan resides at Sarada Mutt in the city. Still actively painting the old artiste says, "I am stricken with Parkinson's disease. My left hand has been quivering for years but I never left this hobby, which alone keeps me going. My daughter encourages me to do more paintings. I had a few exhibitions here too, where the paintings were given away. Some of the buyers gave what they wished and these amounts I gifted to this ashram.

Though my daughter provides me with all the needed medical care and attention, a time comes when one needs one's own little place. As one ages, one needs individual space to commune with the Maker and to interact with others of the same age and similar incapacities. Here, I exchange views with others of my age . It is a few months since I touched the brush. I am trying to do that in spite of the handicap. Regular physiotherapy sessions are improving my control over the hands. I hope to produce some more paintings, the expressions of a life lived to its full potential. I am disgusted with the people who say they are bored, others who say they have no time for pursuing their interests. What a silly way to deal with life. The Lord has created us in His or Her own form and given us latent faculties to improve on. Kindle them and bring out what your heart says, in the form of paintings if you are so inclined, or prepare wonderful dishes for your family. Stamp your individuality on any activity you undertake, either at home or at the workplace. Look around and see how the physically impaired live their lives to the fullest. When the good God has blessed you with a healthy body and versatile mind, use them to repay your debt to Him and society."

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