Semi supercentenarian 108-years-old Michael Charles Robert D’Souza No More- A Tribute. Michael D’Souza, a 108-year-old retired soldier passed away on Thursday, 8 September 2022 in Parkala
Mangaluru: ‘108 YEARS AGE’ is just a number because until recently Michael D’Souza was still rockin’ like a Teenager! I have known this YOUNG MAN when he celebrated his 100th Birthday eight years ago, and since then we have been great friends, and while I was getting OLDER, this YOUNG MAN of 108 years was getting YOUNGER day by day- and you will believe me if you had a chance of meeting him. He still looked healthy, except recently he had lost hearing in his left ear, and had slight problems with eye-sight, other than that he was perfectly alright to do Gardening, Cooking, Shopping, Walking, and Reading.
And the last time that I met him at his house was in January 2022, after which he moved to his relative’s house in Achyuta Nagar, Parkala, and since then lost contact with him, even though had called him several times, but no reply. And this man probably was the ONLY one in Mangaluru who was driving a car for a living until 106 years of age, where he was a driver for a lady bank employee near to his house, but due to poor eye-sight, he had to give up driving two years ago. Except for a brief period in 1993 when he had cataract surgery, this young man has never stopped driving until his golden-ripe age of 106.
Michael Charles Robert D’Souza, born on 16 October 1914, who is a veteran of World War II, has been driving for the last 90 years. And even at this golden ripe age, he used to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning, doing household work by himself, cooking his food, washing his clothes and doing his errands. When you enter his house it felt like you were entering a Catholic chapel, with a bunch of religious statues and picture frames all over the wall, and a well-decorated altar.
Michael loved to pray and pray, and he used to say that only prayer had kept him strong and healthy all these years. On his birthday, which was on 16 October last year, as a birthday gift from my side, I presented him a bottle of home-made wine, sumptuous home-made Chicken Green Curry and Dukhra Mass (Pork Bafat) and Idli sambhar from Taj Mahal Cafe- which I knew were his favourite- and he was happy with my unique birthday gifts!
Born in the same year the First World War broke out, Michael was with the British Indian Army during the Second World War and was employed as a driver in the Army. Michael was born in Ooty to Charlson and Mrs Mary D’Souza. He claimed that his ancestors were Greek, who came to India from Bethlehem. His dad died at the age of 86, while his mother died at the age of 108, he said. Of the 13 children, Michael was the 10th child of his parents and the only one who was still alive till 8 September 2022. He joined the British Indian Army in 1932 at the age of 18 and served in Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Kashmir.
He quit the British Army in 1942 to become a full-time driver. In 1952 he was sent to Mangaluru as a diesel concrete mixer machine driver by the then Madras state government. When Mangaluru became a part of Karnataka in 1956, he also became an employee of the Public Works Department. He worked with the PWD till 1982. At PWD, Michael had the chance to drive the general-purpose vehicle, affectionately called the ‘Jeep’ (GP). He also was given the opportunity to drive a truck, tractors and even road rollers.
Mary D’Souza-the Mother of Michael died at the age of 108, and Michael died at age 108
During my last interaction with him, Michael had said“When I reached 104, after a health check my doctor said that I was incredibly fit for my age except for poor eye-sight and leg pain, and the medical records showed no signs of age-related ailments. (with a great smile). Michael got his first driving license in 1959, and he had renewed it constantly since then. He further said with a smile “On my last visit, the RTO inspector said in jest that should I make it for my next renewal in 2019, then he will award me the permit to drive for a lifetime”.
He has only driven a two-wheeler once. “I got so dizzy, I stopped immediately. I am only cut out to drive vehicles with four wheels or more,” he said. In fact, several roads in Mysore, Udupi and Mangaluru were first asphalted and sealed when he drove the road roller over them. As a driver, he has travelled to many places in India, and he cherished those days of his long drives across the country. After his retirement, he worked as a private driver for two bank employees in Mangaluru.
If anyone doubts about his age, Michael has the proof – he still had a copy of his birth certificate issued by the St. Mary’s Church in Ooty, Karnataka State driver’s licence, his school certificates, his military records, identity cards, senior citizen cards, age certificate, several other old driving licenses, government records and many other documents. His wife Eliza D’Souza died in 2013 at the age of 83, and he has no children. Though they had no children, it was a happy marriage, he said, and they regarded the children of his elder brother as their own. Later in the years, he had an adopted son, who left him a few years ago, making him stay alone in his tiled-roof house in Hat Hill, Mangaluru on a nine cents property.
His only companions at home were his 14 cats, two love birds and a dog. “Earlier, I even had a goat, a chicken and a duck. My wife was very irritated with the tortoise I had, so I had to give him up,” he said. Apart from feeding his 14 cats, two birds, one cat, he also fed a bunch of stray dogs that came near his house. His brother’s daughter and grandchildren visited him occasionally. Until his death, his income was only the monthly pension of Rs 8000 from the Karnataka government.
106 year-old Michael had met Ms Ivy Mathais of Falnir, when she was 103 years- She passed away recently
On his 100th Birthday, a few of his neighbours and well-wishers had planned a birthday bash, but unfortunately, he got sick on that day, and even when the doctor said if he takes an injection he will be fine to attend his birthday bash. But being stubborn, Michael was reluctant to take the injection saying that in his 100 years of life he has never taken an injection and that he would not take one on his 100th birthday. However, the birthday bash went on without Michael’s presence, since many guests and friends had come to the party from near and far. Such was this grumpy old man!
When asked what is the secret behind his 108 young age, he said that Simple food, a strict diet, no oily food or junk food, Pez ani lonche (in Konkani- Congee rice and Pickle) curd, chapati and bread. He restricted eating red meat, but liked eggs and sometimes chicken. He prefered vegetarian food over non-vegetarian. “As our age progresses, I believe we should not strain our stomachs. Therefore, nowadays I eat meat only rarely,” he had said, staring at my belly. He was also incredibly active – no matter the number of floors, he always takes the stairs. Even at his age of 108, he was always dressed to thrill.
One could notice him dressed in a formal shirt, pants and a golfer’s hat, and for special occasions, or when he is called to felicitate him, he attired himself in a three-piece black-coloured suit. The one concession he does make for his age is that he avoided going on long drives and driving late at night.
When asked what his opinion was on the present drivers, especially youngsters, he had said shaking his head. “OMG, Terrible, reckless and dangerous! People just don’t follow lane discipline anymore. Many think they are the Kings of the road and don’t care for the pedestrians, especially the seniors. It’s horrible the way auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers switch lanes these days. One of the main reasons I don’t drive in the evening is how people thoughtlessly switch on their high beams even on well-lit roads. It can easily lead to an untoward incident.”
In his nearly nine decades behind the wheel, Michael said he had been slapped with a fine only once for not wearing a seat belt. “After I got the traffic violation ticket, I went to the Bunder police station to pay the fine. The police inspector took the receipt, and laughed when he saw my age and the fact I was being fined for the first time, he said that he will pay the fine on my behalf and let me go,” said a smiling Michael. Ironically, Michael did not own a car, although the centenarian does not regret it. “I am happy that I was allowed to drive a car even at this age, and I don’t have any qualms about it,” he had said.
When I met Michael D’Souza on his 108th birthday, this is what he said “My simple diet, active lifestyle, socializing with friends, daily prayers, and especially playing with my pet animals have kept me alive till now. The first time I had seen a doctor was on my 100th birthday, and ever since then I have been sick constantly. I trust in God, and not in Medicines. I am happy with my life so far”. These few very inspiring characterizations of old age fit with the concept of “successful ageing,” providing the view that it is possible to enjoy your later years in a way that exceeds your expectations. By sharing these wise, witty, and insightful quotes, I hope I’ve inspired you to think more positively about your own ageing and to gain a better perspective on ways to live as productively and as long as you can”.
“For a fact, as people get older, they move away from the egocentric concerns of youth to the more realistic perceptions of midlife and older adults, who realize that they are not the centre of the universe. As a result, older adults are free to do what they want, not constrained by what they construe to be the opinions of others. To you all ‘young’ folks out there I say, ”Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. Aging can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it. Aging has a wonderful beauty and we should have respect for that.”. And remember, ÄGE IS JUST A NUMBER”! You are still young, and enjoy life- May God bless you all! added our Young and Super Star Michael D’Souza.
Recently Michael also hoisted the tricolour during the 75th Indian Independence day program organized by the Lions Club, Indrali. Sources said that arrangements have been made to pay the last respects at his relative’s Achyuta Nagar house in Parkala on Saturday morning, 10 September. (More funeral details will be uploaded when available) . sadly missed- May His SOUL REST IN PEACE!
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