By I J Saldanha-Shet.
Mangaluru, Dec 8, 2015: A grand old lady teacher - Ivy Mary Mathias of Falnir the heart of old Mangaluru or Kudla is a rare lady born on December 9. 1915........now marking her 100 years century. This alert centenarian says, "My love for a good 100 years now are my roots here in Kodial, nature, and admired coastal culture of the region is changing" She added, " My one aim whenever i went far away to teach and enlighten children, was to return to the land of my fore fathers. I am always happy that God has gifted me to live these 100 years well".
(L) Vintage family picture 1916, Ivy is the infant.
(R)Ivy as a young teacher in Calcutta.
An exquisite historic framed picture ( probably taken in 1916) and well preserved shows Ivy as an infant seated with her mother; her grand father in classic attire of old is also seated, her father Eusebius is standing behind her mother in evolving attire of the time and Ivy’s two living elder sibling are also seen.
Sometime in the 1987 Lady Ivy moved to her present flat. Now she is more than fortunate that though she has no one of her own generation around, a caring family Mraceline, Leena, Meera and Manoj, adopted her as a mother and grand mother and whom she has also stood by in the rough and tough of life.
First lets go back to the history and origins of Ivy the centurion : From the Konkani Catholic Mathias-Prabhu clan who have lived in the heart of Mangalore; Antony John Mathias, was born in the 1770s. According to the premier community genealogist’s publications, he was the earliest identified member of this ’Mathias Prabhus’, a family hailing from Belman. The first church of Belman was built by this Mathias family it is stated on a piece of their vast lands there.
The grand father of our Centenarian Ivy Mary Mathias was Antony Mathew (A M) Mathias (1848-1940) was in the service of the Govt., a ‘Taluk Head Accountant.’ Later he owned a coffee estate and held many ‘honorary’ positions and died at the ripe age of 92 yrs in 1940, rare at that point in time.
Eusebius Piedade Mathias (1882-1948) was the father of Ivy Mary Mathias. Her mother Julia Mascarenhas of Bendur whom Eusebius married at Rosario Cathedral in 1909, this Cathedral edifice celebrated it’s century recently.
Ivy was the last of 7 children of whom three survived to be adults. An exquisite historic framed picture ( probably taken in 1916) and well preserved shows Ivy as an infant seated with her mother; her grand father in classic attire of old is also seated, her father Eusebius is standing behind her mother in evolving attire of the time and Ivy’s two living elder sibling are also seen.
She very joyfully recalls her primary schooling at St.Mary’s that functioned under the Milagres church in those days. Then she went on like most of her time to the famous and first women’s college in South India, St Agnes at Bendur where she graduated with a degree in Arts and later was trained a teacher at St.Ann’s which is today a great old education hub.
Teaching has been her first love, she first taught in Nagpur at ‘Providence’, it was the norm then that people went outside to make a life. This has contributed to Mangalorean’s spreading far and wide and getting appreciated for their services where ever they have transplanted their skills and goodness has served many. With her mind on uplifting the needy, marriage was always on the back burner and remained a spinster. She takes time to recall those days, then she did a long spell of teaching senior classes at popular Loretto school, in Calcutta now Kolkota; Ivy lived on Middleton Road Calcutta. Ivy also did a spell in Karachi before Independence in 1947 which was then part of British India. One of her relatives Gladys, who lived in Calcutta now 97 yrs, and well travelled is now in Mangaluru . She always kept in touch with Mangalore and it’s progress through many of her relatives, in particular a spinster cousin of hers Ivy Currie now about 97 yrs and lived for some time with our protagonist; she lives here in Mangaluru too....wonder of wonders, a family with longetivity printed in their genes or DNA?
Ancestral home, Mangaluru and dear ones early 1980s.
Recipe for a century:
"Ivy is such a pleasant easy person she can live for decades more", quipped a senior lady Mrs Tilly Peris, who has known her long. Devotion to her belief is paramount, she always prayed earnestly and wished for everyone to be happy and good, she got stressed if she saw injustice and unkindness. She said she used to have a few ailments like mild giddiness, unsteady sugar levels, but at present she seems to have out grown all those and now apart from the normal pains of age is far better than many much younger to her. Reading, gardening, art work, embroidery were her forte and she was always very neat and tidy. For health she regularly ate fresh peeled garlic and regularly took local ‘herbal bitters’ called ‘Keeraithe Kaddi’, this she grew in her own garden for long.
Its amazing to hear about her health and food; it cancels all the advanced scientific opinions seen these days on the subject.....brace your selves for shock! The accepted theory is vegetables are the best for a healthy and long life – but our centurion Ivy detested vegetables and hardly ate any. Her favorites were all kinds of sea foods, fish, meats, sweets, chocolates and to top it all Ice Cream. Junk food is high on her ‘like list.’ Bananas are her first love among fruits, her food intake is good and she has just normal food like most people, eating on her own. She is very fond of the old genre country and western pop music...like Jim Reeves, Cliff Richard, Elvis Presly and such apart from old Konkani songs. One can see the LP’s kept safely in the show case right now.....unfortunately the player has succumbed to age! As of today she is very keen on watching TV, music, soaps and news with good attention and absorption. Her favourites are also religious channels she is very fond of watching religious ceremonies. She can not be counted as an old foggy or invalid by any measure and at 100 is a pleasant person to meet and chat with, Ivy a very alert centurion of prime value to society at large and women’s empowerment too. December 9, 2015 is sure to be a red letter day for this grand old lady, Ivy Mary Mathias in Mangaluru now a hundred but still young in spirit.