First published in Trinidad Express here
TODAY’S Eid-ul-Fitr celebration is a special and blessed occasion for Rasulan Subratee: she celebrates her 105th birthday. It is the first time in her life that her birthday has fallen on Eid and it is a blessing, her grandson Niamath Mohammed said yesterday.
Mohammed, 63, who since childhood was cared for by his grandmother, now looks after her welfare. Although many people find it easier to place their “elders” in senior citizens’ home, Mohammed, of Jalim Street, Manahambre Road, Princes Town, said he would never hear of that. “My grandmother mind me, send me to school, teach me to do gardening and most of all teach me the values and morals of life. She always urged me to work hard, be honest and help others. After she has done all that for me, it’s now my turn to take care of her,” he said yesterday.
“If daadi (grandmother) is not here, my life and my home would be lonely,” his wife Basdaye added. Subratee, a devout Muslim, has outlived her husband, Subratee Mohammed, who died 40 years ago at age 58; and her two sons Yusuf and Amin. She has 16 grand-children, 24 great-grand and 15 great-great-grand.
She recounted how her parents, Imam Bocas and Akintah, came from India “on a boat”, in 1903 and her mother was pregnant with her. Subratee was born in Basta Hall, Couva, married at an early age and started living in Princes Town.
She assisted her husband in the garden planting a variety of vegetable crops, reaping and selling house-to-house “with a tray on her head”. She also planted and reaped sugar cane from the family’s private lands. Her grand-daughter-in-law, Basdaye Mohammed, recalls Subratee “cooking in a chulha (fireside), cutting and toting her own wood too”. “She is a constant companion. If she stops talking too long, I check on her to see if she is okay. She keeps us lively talking all the time,” Basdaye said.
Even at 105, Subratee bathes and dresses herself, “and given a chance would cook for herself too”, Basdaye said. She has no major illness and her sight is perfect although she does not wear spectacles. She cannot read or write. Subratee’s favourite dishes include vegetables and paratha roti, dhal and rice, chicken, fish and pepper. Subratee’s age is the crowning glory of her lifetime. She is well-loved and appreciated in her community. Today, as the villages celebrate her birthday with prayers and a variety of food along with cake and ice-cream the celebration is as relevant as the Eid-ul-Fitr observation.