Armchairs are not for him. This resident of an old-age home in Jamnagar prefers the company of books. At 90, Jeevabhai Gohil is the oldest student in the country, pursuing an MA from IGNOU.
While most people prefer to go gently into the sunset of their lives, basking in their past achievements, Gohil has found a new calling in studying English. And it is more than just a hobby to kill time. The retired IAF officer, who has participated in three wars — World War II, India-China and India-Pakistan wars — competes to win. Gohil is described by the IGNOU administration as a brilliant student who has given his much younger classmates a run for their degree.
“It was my dream to be a part of the Air Force. When I joined the armed forces, I was 17 years old and only a matriculate. The soldier in me was satisfied. But my thirst for the English language spurred me to pursue a BA in 2002 and subsequently an MA,” says the nonagenarian.
Gohil decided to shift to the old-age home after his wife passed away and “I was very lonely”. “At this point, I decided to complete my dream of getting a proper education. I had a lot of free time and a lot of books were waiting to be read,” says Gohil.
His daughter Nirmala Gohil backed his decision. “My father has always been an achiever and he is very dedicated to whatever he does,” says the proud daughter. Even IGNOU administration is full of admiration for this man on a mission. Says the university’s regional director at Ahemdabad Dr Kalpana Mishra: “I admire his hard work and dedication. He lived in Jamnagar and would travel by himself to the examination centre in Ahemdabad. He would brush aside our pleas to provide him transportation, saying that he did not want to depend on anyone.”
Old he may be, but Govil is fired with enthusiasm. “I want to tell everyone to never give up. If a 90-year-old can fulfil his dream, so can you,” he advises this generation. So what keeps him going? “Education makes a man bright and he can solve all difficulties in life.” That’s his motto, the answer.