I Didn’t Let Personal Losses Stop Me After Retiring As A Space Scientist, And I’m Still Active At 79!

There was so much loss and pain over the past decade since my retirement, but I did not let that stop me from living an active, fulfilling life.

I am a retired Indian woman scientist, and believe me life does not stop at retirement. I am now 79 years old, and still active mentally and physically in many ways. The purpose of writing this story is to encourage ladies to take up activities of various types to keep them busy even in old age.

My story as an Indian woman scientist was published on Women’s Web in 2015. The story ended with ‘Now I am living an enjoyable retired life with my husband, sons and their wives, daughter and her husband and two grandsons and one granddaughter all in Ahmedabad (in different houses). On Sundays, we meet up together in the same house so that we feel like a big family living together.’

At that point of time, I had felt that all my responsibilities were over and that everything had settled down, and that life had become stable and would continue to remain like that till the end.

This was in 2015. Nine years have passed. During this period unexpected things happened and life took turns number of times. I had to face number of problems but there has been achievements also maintaining balance in life. I am going to narrate these here.

Again the purpose of writing this story is for encouraging women to face difficulties with courage and also try to do things of their choice and take life positively.

In the years since 2015, many unexpected events have happened, which changed my life completely.

My daughter’s divorce

The first turning point came in 2015 itself when my daughter came to stay with us telling us that she and her husband were not getting along well. She filed a divorce case against him. We tried our best to bring them together but it did not work. Finally divorce was granted in 2018. So she has been staying with me since then.

My husband’s illness and death

My husband got severe stroke in January 2016 and was hospitalized. He had become unconscious and remained in hospital for more than 15 days. He remained in a coma for almost seven months. One of our bedrooms was converted into almost an ICU with a 24 hours nurse to look after him. He used to turn his eyes around but was not able to move. To supervise the nurse, I kept my study table and chair in that room. I used to talk to him about what was happening around but he never responded. He passed away in August that year.

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During this time I developed the hobby of writing poetry. I wrote number of poems in Hindi and some in English.

More illnesses and a death

In 2017 January my younger daughter in law was hospitalized for some stomach ailment. During this time my younger son with his two kids came to our house. In the next one and a half year her health condition deteriorated. During this period she was hospitalized number of times. Because of the atmosphere in the house, my grandson got affected and wanted to stay in the hostel. He was then studying in a school which had no hostel facility. Finally we had to get him admitted to another school with a good hostel facility.

Unfortunately my younger daughter in law passed away in 2018. My son got very much affected by his wife’s untimely death. He got diabetes, blood pressure and other health problems. I had to look after my two grandchildren, one 13 years old boy and one 4 years old girl like their mother. Though it was quite tough for me but I had no option but to take this responsibility. I too got some health related problems including Dengue for which I had to be hospitalized for few days. However with determination to get well I recovered.

Then the pandemic struck and life changed again

Then lock down started in 2020. The hostel closed down. My grandson shifted to our house. Both the kids had to attend online classes. There were no domestic helpers for more than two months.

That was the first time in my life that I did the housework all by myself in my house. Somehow I managed without any problem.

Staying at home during Corona had some advantages also. WhatsApp groups were formed and we could get in touch with our old classmates. I joined Patna Science College and IIT Delhi Alumni associations and got busy with video programs.

Getting back in touch with my professional life, online!

IIT Delhi Alumni Association started a separate WhatsApp group for ladies, Alumna IITD. Their first program was to start a series of talks from alumna on ‘She inspires’. Their first talk was in March 2021 in which they invited me to give a talk along with some others. The series of talks is still continuing.

In August, IITD organized another series of program “Ye Un Dinon Ki Baat Hai” (What happened in those days) in which I gave an invited talk. This talk series is also currently going on.

On completion of 75 years of independence, IITD Alumni Association arranged a number of online programs and in one of the programs they invited me to recite some of my poems.

Also I created a virtual help desk to help Corona patients in Bihar with the help of IIT Delhi and PSC Alumni Associations. I was instrumental in establishing a CSC (Common Service Center) in one of the villages in Bihar to be run by a cancer survivor young man with sufficient computer knowledge. It was inaugurated on Diwali day in 2021 and is running smoothly.

What’s happening on the personal front

I too was down with COVID and confined to my room for 14 days. After that I got a cyst on my back which had to be operated and health related problems kept coming off and on but things were manageable.

In June 2022, I was felicitated by SBI as very senior citizen scientist (above seventy five years) from SAC (Space Applications Center) Ahmedabad along with about half a dozen of other very senior citizens from different fields, on the occasion of Amrit Mahotsay (celebration of completion of 75 years of independence).

Felicitation by SBI, Ahmedabad

I wrote number of poems during COVID time. Some of my poems in Hindi (22 nos.) got published in the book Palak, Jo Khul Rahi Hai available on Amazon. My interest in writing poems continued and I published my book on poems Arpan (ek vaigyanik mahila ki likhi kuchh kavitaon ka sangrah) which includes poems in Hindi, English and Bhojpuri which is my mother tongue. The book is available on Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press.

Writing poems is still continuing. In October 2023 I was awarded the second prize in a poetry competition organized by Hindi Sahitya Parisad, Ahmedabad in October 2023.

I have published another book Indian Women Scientists: Unsung stories which presents stories of four women scientists, belonging to different States of India, describing the hardship they had to face to become a scientist. This was mainly to encourage women scientists to take jobs of their choice. This is also available on Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press.

Besides these activities, I continue to remain a Committee Member of RIOAA (Retired ISRO Officers’ Association, Ahmedabad) and also Joint Editor of Avakash- a tri monthly Newsletter of RIOAA. Recently I have joined a Puzzle WhatsApp group of RIOAA and taking part in it actively. Also I have formed a separate WhatsApp group of RIOAA only for poems and wish to compile poems written by retired ISRO scientists and publish it.

For me these activities work like medicines for various health related problems which are bound to be there at our age. I would be completing 79 years in December this year. Writing has become my hobby, and unless I write whatever is there in my mind I do not get satisfaction. This write up is also an outcome of the same. Hope you enjoy reading it and get motivated to do something or the other of their liking and also fruitfully utilize their time.

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