UDUPI: For the last 40 years, 103-year-old Sarasajji of Kadangodu-Karje village near Brahmavara has been living a life of solitude. It is by choice and not forced on her by her family, she says. She wants to live with dignity and be self-reliant. It is not unusual as some would think, she says. And self-reliant she is for she built the hut herself four decades ago and it has withstood the test of time. ‘’I collected the wood, prepared the soil and built this hut as I wanted it. But this rainy season the real challenge came when water entered the hut and along with it some snakes and insects. I had a tough time repairing it.”
Though her son Narayan wanted her to shift to his house, she refused.
“I do not find any reason to shift from here as I don’t like to be dependent on anybody. Also, this hut holds many memories for me, especially my days of struggle,” she says. Apart from going out to collect firewood, Sarasajji occasionally makes a trek to neighbouring Suralu village to buy essentials like rice and some vegetables. “For my living, I collect cashew nuts raised in the one-acre land, sell the produce and buy whatever I need. But my need is limited. I live on a diet of rice and vegetables. And I keep myself busy keeping the surroundings clean and doing other chores. I haven’t fallen ill in all these years.”
None of the welfare schemes have reached her.
“But I don’t need anything from the government. My wants are simple and I am happy,” she says.
“I lost my father when I was just one year old and after some years my mother too died. My husband Laxman looked after me well. We lived in a comparatively better house which is nearby. But that house collapsed some four decades ago,” Sarasajji says.
Her daughter Baby died at a very young age.
Balakrishna Shetty Haluvalli of the same village is building a house for Sarasajji costing `1.5 lakh. Sarasajji who initially refused the offer of a new house has now agreed after the villagers persuaded her.