Saleina, 83, hails from Bombay, and has lived in Marine Parade for the past 43 years. Glowing with an obvious sense of pride, she recounted how she was the only person staying in the entire block when she first moved in to the newly built HDB with her husband. Ask her anything about the area’s history, and she’ll gladly share all sorts of stories and fond memories.
Energetic and eager to try new things, Saleina spent much of her youth dabbling in many jobs and activities. Spurred by her love for cooking, she started a home-catering business for 25 years before moving on to tailoring. Unfortunately however, this came to a stop when her husband of 70 years became bedridden. Money soon became a constant worry, and Saleina faced the physical and mental demands of being her husband’s full-time caretaker.
In spite of her circumstances, Saleina has only looked upon her situation with gratitude and a quiet optimism. During our exchanges, she never once complained about her difficulties, her eyes lighting up at every mention of her beloved husband. “It is luck,” she cheekily admits as her secret to a happy marriage – that she managed to find a “good man” in an era of arranged marriages in her community. She was thankful, too, that some organisations extended a helping hand; GoodLife! was even able to provide her with a part-time helper, Sujata, who alleviates the stress of her daily duties.
Although caring for her husband takes up most of her time, Saleina tries to be active and sociable in her neighbourhood. As a member of GoodLife!, she helps to organise events for fellow seniors, and sometimes heads down to the Muslim Kidney Action Centre, where she has been a volunteer for more than four years. She waved goodbye brandishing her newly-acquired balloon sculptures, murmuring delightedly that her husband would love them.