Parvathy V, 82, enjoys teaching, a profession that saved her from a broken relationship, and her lifeline today as she tutors children in Anandam – A Free Home for Senior Citizens
Parvathy V, 82, was born and brought up in Delhi, learning both English and Hindi early in life. Married at 17 in the 1960s, she moved into a joint family in Guduvancheri, Tamil Nadu, and lived there for almost two decades. Her husband, a college professor, never lived with her. “My in-laws were unconcerned,” she says.
When she returned to her parents’ house, her father, a central government officer, advised her to educate herself and live on her own. At 35, she began to rebuild her life, first pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, then a master’s degrees in Hindi, and another in library science. She obtained a job in an Ooty library, then moved to Chennai, where she taught at Shrine Vailankanni Senior Secondary School, working there until her retirement. For Parvathy, life began with her teaching job.
“Sometime in the 1980s, while I was working as a teacher, my spouse reappeared in my life. I refused to see him. For my own welfare, I had the strength to say no,” she says.
After her mother passed away in 2010, Parvathy made the decision to move into Anandam – A Free Home for Senior Citizens.
She once observed construction workers’ children while they were playing. Their parents talked to her about their low maths scores. “What good is education if it doesn’t assist anyone?” wondered Parvathy.
She began teaching children in class 9 and 10. “Everyone wondered what this elderly lady would teach the children, but after they started taking my lessons, they improved dramatically, and the school wrote a note praising the children’s presentation,” she says. “Then everyone began approaching me.”
She then motivated the home to start formal free tuition for the children around. Todays she feels, “I command respect from people because of my work. Because of my education, people have accepted me, appreciated me.”
She also has a word of advice for women who are single: if you want to live life on your own, you will face difficulties. “Your mind and spirit will be at peace if you live life your way, even though there will be many challenges,” she says, adding that she has faced tough times in life, including the lack of financial stability. “I struggled, but I persevered and grew stronger.”
Through projects like Aushad, Prashikshan, and Suraksha, the Billion Hearts Beating Foundation strives to remove disparities in access to healthcare.