The Octogenarian

Incessant rain, puddles everywhere,

In an overcast, heavy atmosphere

The high humidity hung overpoweringly, 

But the chores had to be carried out weekly.

With laden bags I was coming back steadily,

Gnawing thoughts haunting depressingly,

My load seeming to become heavier,

As I was directing my steps towards my car.


In the distance I saw a small woman, old,

Walking without a wand down the road,

Almost bent double,

But determined and cheerful,

With no dread of old age, no worry,

Looking forward to it as if eagerly.

And enthusiastically,

With the least care or worry.


I started pondering,

If this frail little woman had such a cheerful bearing,

Why was I feeling so cheerless?

Why was I so low in spirit, so tuneless?

What reason did I have to feel hapless?

I felt ashamed of my untoward stress,

Of my comparatively better state, utterly thoughtless,

Making me feel unnecessarily depressed.


Seeing the face of this woman all content,

I forgot the load on my arms almost bent,

And gradually approached.

When I greeted her, she replied,

A serene look conveyed,

And the most radiant smile displayed,

While my mind, already a heap of confusion, 

Added with the day’s next hours’ deliberation.


She was neatly dressed in a traditional wear,

Fashioned like that of a young girl was her scanty hair,

With a light, dainty head wear,

Daintily fixed.

A bag in one arm, well tucked,

And in it her umbrella folded.

A clean pair of sandals she wore,

Which light-footedly she bore.


Full of admiration for her love of life,

Her determination to face life, showing no strife,

At the vulnerable age of eighty-seven,

Made my worries look vain.

I thanked God for teaching,

In the few minutes’ meeting,

To appreciate life’s little blessings.


I was reminded of the super centenarians  

Being able to see different generations,

Like Nabi Tajima and Violet Moss-Brown,

For their long lives renown.

Surely, high expectations they put aside,

Loving people than the desire to be admired,

And being aware of what they have achieved,

 Must have their longevity boosted.


It dawned on me that if we can still move around,

Be independent, do our errand,

Helping the family or friends,

Either reading or with computer games diverted,

And our acquired knowledge passed on,

To the youngsters and beyond,

We can consider ourselves to be lucky,

And thank the Lord for helping us to be happy.


The fear of becoming a burden to our families

Is there, but with our hard-earned savings,

We can stay comfortably in Old Age Homes, 

And not worry about being alone,

For after crossing milestones,

We are living on time borrowed,

Lavishly by the Lord bestowed,

So why not grasp what is naturally endowed?


©Pushmaotee Subrun

This entry was posted in Poetry on by .

About Pushmaotee Subrun

Pushmaotee Fowdur Subrun was born in 1949 in Mauritius. She pursued higher studies in Delhi University where she graduated in English. For the past forty-four years she has worked in secondary schools, seven years of which she spent in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, teaching English in an army school. She completed her PGCE at the Mauritius Institute of Education in 1993. After her retirement, she was a member of the Council of the University of Mauritius for three years. She is currently a reader and editor in the Ministry of Arts and Culture. She has written one novel, one play and Short Stories and Fables. Her poems have featured in Setu Magazine, ‘Poetry and Creativity’ and in Atunis Poetry.

1 thought on “The Octogenarian

  1. amitapaul

    Excellent thoughts. This would be so encouraging for an octogenarian to read ! In fact it is an inspiring poem . You have delivered on your promise to write on a theme close to Wordsworth’s ‘ Resolution and Independence ‘, or the Old Leech- Gatherer. Robert Browning’s poem , ‘ Rabbi Ben Ezra’ also comes to mind .
    “Grow old along with me
    The best is yet to be …..”


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