19 March, 2018
Almost touching 80 years of age, an avid blogger, and running a creative community with 5000+ followers on Facebook; all that put together seems like something unbelievable. So, there is more; loss of 80% of her vision and a tryst with Thyroid cancer as well. Incredibly, all these things are possible as seen in the profile of one person, as proved by Mrs Pankajam Balasundaram. Having faced some tough situations in life with absolute grittiness and a never say die spirit, she is today an inspiration to many. She proves that age doesn’t matter, neither does adverse life situations. All this can be overcome with a positive spirit, a will to conquer and a constant quest to make something out of your life.
Mrs Pankajam Balasundaram mentions in her blogger profile that she was always interested in arts and crafts and had even won a few prizes. After having lived in Kolkata with her husband and two sons, she had to shift to Coimbatore for family reasons. This is where she started an Arts and Crafts teaching centre in the 80s. At the time, she taught sewing, embroidery, cookery as well. Her classes there, continued for 20 years, across three generations of students, many of whom are still in touch with her.
In between, she was fascinated by glass paintings and came up with her own designs and techniques for these. She uses a three-layer technique that provides her paintings with a three-dimensional look. She started selling her work and used the earnings to help provide education for the underprivileged. Later, she also picked up freezing techniques about Western cooking, from the Internet and tried simplifying South Indian cooking for seniors. But, this was appreciated by all age groups as well.
A retinal detachment made her lose 50% of her vision in 1986. However, undeterred, she carried on. But in 2003, complications from a cataract operation made turn 80% blind. That is when she handed over her Coimbatore school to another person. Her family shifted to Bangalore where she started working with differently-abled children. She learnt computers as well and was hooked to it, despite the fact that she had to use larger screens for reading properly.
The next setback was in the form of Thyroid cancer, which too she overcame in her typical style. She started a Facebook page, called Pankaj Creative Crafts, which is hugely popular with more than 5000 followers. Through this page, she teaches art, craft, bonsai, etc through regular videos, and posts. You can also read her blogs at pankajcreativecrafts.blogspot.in.
Stories like that of Mrs Pankajam Balasundaram teach us that age is just a number and that it is an individual’s positivity and will to succeed against all odds that make life worth the while. The fact that even at her age, with all the handicaps, she is contributing to society in more ways than one, is the biggest takeaway from her story. Not to mention the fact, her being a cancer survivor, could be a true inspiration for many people fighting cancer and such other odds. Also, the interesting bit that she took to technology to stay in touch with the times and uses it effectively to share her knowledge with the community, should hopefully also inspire many other senior citizens to do the same. After all, by now we have seen enough examples along these lines.
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