End of an Era: Mrs. Clara Pinto passes away at 102
Every time I made a trip to Bangalore, the name “Mrs. Clara Pinto” would make its way into most of the conversations I had with my family, as she was a good friend of my grandmother, Mrs. Agnes Rebello. I always wondered who this lovely lady was and this one fine time, back in 2018, I decided that I must meet her. Well enough, my half an hour visit turned out to be a good two and half hours! So many years of a fruitful life with so many years of life’s experiences to narrate, I can proudly say it was an evening well spent with Aunty Clara. That was the very first time I met her when she was almost 100 and then a couple of times after that.
Mrs. Clara Francesica Pinto (nee Coelho), born on the 27th of November 1918, belonged to the family of the Bantwalgaar Coelho’s from Kodialbail, Mangalore. She was the daughter of the late Gilbert Coelho and late Bertyl Britto and was the youngest of their 10 children. She was fondly called “Baiyya Aunty” by her family members. Mrs. Clara lost her Father at the age of 6 and her Mother passed away when she was 8 and because of which she was looked after by her eldest sister whose children were in the same age group as her.
During the course of our conversation, Aunty Clara casually recalled a funny anecdote that happened to her during her Schooling days. She said “Back in School, I used to fare well and always teach my batch mates. When our results came out one day, much to my surprise, I did not find mine on the notice board! My immediate thought was that I had failed and I started to cry. I then brought my sister to School to find out what had happened to my results. And guess what, it turned out that my results were withheld because my enrollment year was mistakenly put as 1919, while in fact I was born in 1918”.
Mrs. Clara Pinto got married to Mr. Bonfilus Alexis Pinto (a well-known Planter, fondly known as Bona Pinto) on the 6th of May 1942. They were blessed with 8 children, 7 girls and 1 boy – Elaine, Jeanette, Enid, Arthur, Genevieve, Christina Pamela (who died young), Rosemarie and Juanita. She was the proud grandmother of 12 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Interestingly and quite unheard of in the Mangalorean Community, her eldest three daughters got married at the Glass House in Lalbagh, Bangalore on the very same day! A triple wedding, was indeed rare and something to talk about.
Mrs. Clara Pinto lived in Bangalore at her Residence ‘Sunny Brae’, which was bought in 1957 from an Englishman. She started driving at the age of 18 and in 1982, she imported a green coloured Volkswagen Golf (left hand drive) from Netherlands. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Clara took over their Estate (located between Hassan and Chickmagalur) and would drive down 3 hours all alone in order to manage the running of it. She proudly told me, “I was driving until the age of 92 when I was forced to stop because my children felt I should!”. She had a passion for knitting and continued the same even till the very end! She said that she had knitted over 45 stoles for all her relatives and friends.
Before I left the Pinto Home that evening, I casually asked Aunty Clara – “What is your secret to a long, happy and healthy life?”. She said to me, “Eat less and work more, work is exercise. Life is not merely just living, enjoy the life the Lord has blessed you with and make the most of it. Don’t always think of pleasure. Pleasure is different from enjoyment. Back in the day, we didn’t have gadgets; we only used our brains as computers. Just remember to always be organized and everything else will fall in place. Be strong in the mind and never be afraid. Always say “I can” and never say you cannot. Always move on, don’t stagnate. Be positive, look forward to life and God will show you the way!”.
A few days ago I heard the unfortunate news that Aunty Clara was seriously ill and it was really sad to see her succumb to it, as she passed away at her residence in Frazer Town, Bangalore, on the 1st of May 2021 (aged 102 years 5 months).
I am truly happy to have met such a dynamic, knowledgeable and inspirational personality and I pray that her soul rests in peace.
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