UK’s Oldest Woman, World’s Second Oldest Person Dies at 115

115 year old

By Indiawest

LONDON,United Kingdom: West London-based Sant Kaur Bajwa, who at the age of 115 years and 199 days, was officially the United Kingdom’s oldest and the world’s second oldest person, passed away of natural causes July 19.

Bajwa was born Jan. 1, 1898 in Sialkote, Punjab — in what is now Pakistan — in a small village called Monde ke Mazeera. She lived through three centuries, two World Wars, the Industrial and Technological Revolutions and outlived a total of six monarchs and 27 prime ministers of England.

Despite her tough childhood, having lost both parents at a young age, she was raised by her older sister who helped her become the woman that she is today. At the age of 16, she married a farmer and gave birth to four children. Unfortunately, further tragedy followed Bajwa with the death of her husband Munsha Singh six years after her marriage in 1914.

A woman of indomitable strength, she faced the struggle of having to bring up three children on her own in a society that treated widows as outcasts.

In 1947, shortly after India gained independence, she was forced to migrate to Shukarpur in Punjab, where tragedy struck once again as she lost one of her children in the traumatic journey to Punjab. She finally arrived and began to build her new life with her three surviving children, Iqbal, Avtar and Surjit, and her extended family.

The Indian government at the time provided widows with sewing machines, and so she learned to stitch and sell clothing. All the money she would earn was saved purely for her children’s sake and she managed to educate them with the help of her brother.

In 1966, Bajwa migrated to Southall, England to live with her son-in-law and daughter, Ajit Singh Rai and Surjit Kaur Rai. However, she faced another ordeal — the death of her daughter Surjit in 1972 who was diagnosed with kidney failure. So, at the age of 74, her strength and determination rose again, as she made the commitment to raise her four grandchildren as her own, particularly the twins who were six years old at the time.

In 1998, Bajwa reached her landmark centenary. While the world started to worry about the new millennium and Y2K, she reflected on the fact that she was born before the first airplane was invented, the first radio transmission and the discovery of penicillin.

Throughout her 115 years, it was her resolute belief in Sikhism and god that encouraged her will to live. Baptized as a Sikh, she was a religious activist who would visit the gurdwara daily and repeat the term “Waheguru” for her own tranquility. It was her faith that gave her the optimism and strength to survive the inevitability of age.

Jim and Bob Rai, the twins that Bajwa brought up, recall what a remarkable woman their grandmother was. They said, “She was a formidable woman; a parent should never have to outlive their children, and our grandmother suffered more than her fair share of tragedy during her lifetime.

“It was her inner strength and resolve that carried her forward; she fought and stood tall as the matriarch of the family. She will be sorely missed and we will never forget her flamboyant yet modest personality.”

Bajwa is survived by 12 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren.