According to Zeenat Bi’s voter identity card, she is 106 years old. But her age, coupled with her diminutive 3-foot height, has done nothing to diminish her zest for life and love for new experiences.
Bi, who lost all her relatives at a young age, has been living with a well-wisher Mohammad Abrar, for the past two decades.
Her small room, in a congested by-lane in the Jehangirabad locality of Bhopal, is colourful and reminiscent of a fairy-tale world with its tiny shelves and chappals so small, they’re almost the size of her voter identity card.
Reflecting her own vibrancy, almost everything she owns is brightly coloured and a glittering crown is tucked into one of her shelves.
“The tourism people called me on tourism day and felicitated me,” she says, explaining the crown. “I sang and danced and enjoyed the show with the other participants,” she adds, joyfully.
She speaks of her past, pointing out that her hair has still stayed black, despite her age and claims that her teeth have fallen out twice and grown back again.
“She may have crossed 100 years but she is still very talkative and lively,” says Aamir Mehboob, a lecturer in a college and another of her well-wishers. He says that he has been in touch with her for over a decade.
Zeenat Bi lost her parents early in life and was brought up by her relatives, he says. After they died, a neighbour took care of her, and eventually, Abrar Bhai gave her a room in his house.
“Abrar has a modest income and therefore bringing her up was a challenge, not only financially but also in meeting her small demands,” says Aamir. “I wish someone from the government or an organization helped her obtain a world record for being the oldest living dwarf. The entry in the Guinness Book of World Records may help her financially as well,” he adds.
The oldest living dwarf currently is Marie-Louise Hebert from Canada, who born on August 10, 1929.
Talking about her, Abrar says, “I only worry about her health. I don’t know which doctor to approach in case if her health deteriorates further. Thankfully, she has had no problems till now; whenever she had minor health problems, we gave her medicines prescribed for children.”
Zeenat Bi speaks fondly of the former chief minister of the state, Uma Bharti.
“She was a very nice lady and helped me a lot,” she says. “She used to call me to her bungalow and talk to me. She also helped me financially. She used to send her driver every month to my place and send money because I have no source of income. But I don’t know what happened; suddenly, she stopped calling me. Then I came to know that some people fabricated her in some case and that she had gone somewhere else,” she adds.