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96-year-old Kerala woman defies age to run business, lead an independent life

Devakikutty at her shop in Kottayam.

Imagine living an active and independent life at the age of 96, by running a small business. Meet Puthanparambil Devakikutty of Kottayam in Kerala, a spirited woman who continues to manage her small shop to earn a livelihood. For Devakikutty, age is just a number as she continues to display unyielding spirit and unwavering commitment to live an independent life.

Devakikutty has tried her hand at different businesses right from her young age and it was after her husband’s death that she bought a small plot at SH Mount in Kottayam 40 years ago and opened her shop. “I was very much interested in doing business right from my young age. I used to make different snacks and food items for delivery at homes. I have been to Ernakulam to sell clothes. After my husband’s death, I started this small shop to finally settle somewhere,” Devakikutty told “Open Digest”.

Her life has never been easy but she managed to overcome all the obstacles in her life with grit and courage. Her husband Narayana Panicker, a transport worker, died 40 years ago leaving behind four children – two sons and two daughters. Instead of succumbing to the challenges that propped up one after the other, she embraced her circumstances with remarkable courage and brought up the children.

But fate played its cruel part when her two sons Padmalochanan and Shashikumar passed away one after the other. While struggling to come out of the grief, tragedy struck her when one of her daughters, Krishnakumari also passed away. “Life threw a lot of challenges at me but I took it all head on,” she said.

Devakikutty utilised her lifelong skills and entrepreneurial spirit to not only earn a livelihood but also maintain her sense of purpose and belonging. Every morning, Devakikutty rises before the sun preparing herself for another day of running the shop. She starts the day with a prayer and makes food for her in the kitchen. She carries a flask of tea along with her to the shop.

Though the physical demands of running a shop might seem overwhelming for someone of her age, she gracefully manoeuvres the day to day activities required for running the shop. Her unwavering commitment to leading an autonomous life has won her respect from people in the locality.

Devakikutty’s elder daughter Sunilabha used to come and visit her sometimes. Though her daughter is against her continuing this shop and staying alone at the small house, Devakikutty is not ready to surrender her indomitable spirit.

“If we sit at home idle, we will get many diseases. I am running the shop not for money alone but to see the people who come to my shop and talk to them. I don’t want to depend on anyone,” she said.

Devakikutty’s life is an inspiring example of how one should embrace life fully, irrespective of their circumstances. She reminds us of the power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity.

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