Thailand: 'Grandma Minoh' Reflects on Her 125 Years

Pattani, Thailand
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160715-minoh-1000 Minoh “Grandma Minoh” Tayohderoh reflects on her life at her home in Pattani province’s Yaring district, where records show she was born in 1891.

Minoh “Grandma Minoh” Tayohderoh, who is thought to be 125 years old, says living a life of goodness and thinking about Allah has been the secret to her longevity.

She was born way back in 1891 in the village of Takae in Yaring, a district in the southern Thai province of Pattani, according to her house registration booklet, a government form that lists the occupants of every home in Thailand. She says she hasn’t budged from the village since then.

The form, issued in 1985, states only that she was born in the Thai year 2434 BE, meaning that her life has spanned the rule of five Thai monarchs – from King Rama V through King Rama IX (Bhumipol Adulyadej).

When BenarNews visited Grandma Minoh recently, she explained in the local Patani-Malay dialect that her home was built 150 years ago.

“I was born in this house, numbered 92/1 in village 2 Takae sub-district, in 1891. I have lived here ever since because it is my place of birth. I think I would like to die in this house too,” she said, referring to herself as “Moh” or “grandmother.”

Thailand’s five southernmost provinces – Songkhla, Satun, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat – are home to 250 people who are aged 100 or older, according to figures compiled by the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center (SBPAC).

SBPAC officials recently visited Grandma Minoh and presented her with a special certificate after determining that she was the oldest of them all.

Despite her age, Grandma Minoh’s only health issues are high blood pressure and knee pain. Her fourth husband recently died, but relatives help take care of her, including a grandson and his wife.

“Grandma has good memory, she can remember anything,” her grandson’s wife, who asked not to be named, told BenarNews.

She said Grandma Minoh still helped support her family with money from a coconut tree plantation and rice fields that she rents.

“She can take a shower. I don’t need to help much,” the grandson’s wife said. “She can do anything by herself.”

The house registration form lists Minoh Tayohderoh’s date of birth as 2434B.E. (1891A.D.). [BenarNews]



Life during wartime

Minoh never completed formal studies at any level because her parents did not want her to pursue her education.

“As I child I did enroll at the Ban Takae School, but I never completed my primary education there. At that time parents were wary of sending children to school because they were afraid the teachers would hit the kids,” she explained.

Married for the first time at age 16, Grandma Minoh remarried three more times. She had a child with each of her first two husbands.

“They work in Pattani town and asked me to come with them, but I don’t want to leave this home,” Grandma Minoh said. “They came back at Eid-ul-Fitr. I miss them,” she said, adding that she has many brothers, sisters and grandchildren to help her.

She is among few people in the region old enough to remember World War II, when the Japanese Imperial Army landed in several provinces along Thailand’s eastern gulf coast, including Pattani.

“Every day I could hear the sound of aircraft passing in the sky overhead. It was deafening and lasted for a long time too. I don’t know where they were going, but they did not land here,” she recalled.

“Japanese soldiers came and took away the young men. They took bananas and other kinds of food from the villagers too,” she said.

“I can remember my father had a favorite ox that he raised by himself and loved very much, but he had to slaughter it and share the meat with the entire village because none of us had food to eat. Going outside the village to find food was frightening at that time,” she said.

“Before too long, the war quieted down and things improved as we all went back to our normal ways of life, but I wouldn’t describe it as a time of great joy either,” she said.

A word from the wise

For most of her life, Thai Buddhists and Malay-speaking Muslims lived together in peace in the Thailand’s Deep South despite their religious differences. They made their living by planting fruit and vegetables, growing rice and engaging in commerce. They helped each other as needed, Grandma Minoh said.

This relatively peaceful coexistence eroded, starting in January 2004, when separatist insurgents raided an army ammunition depot in nearby Narathiwat province and made off with more than 400 automatic rifles.

Nearly 7,000 people, mostly Muslims, have died in the ensuing years as a result of the ongoing insurgency and the government response to it.

Grandma Minoh said she has always been a hard worker, whether in the rice fields or as a saleswoman. Pain in her knees ended her career, but she believes that her work ethic allowed her to maintain her strength. She also believes that Allah allows her to live on to teach her descendants to be good people.

“I would like to spread the following message among my descendants and all the younger generations – live your life according to the correct religious principles, as taught by Allah and written in the Quran. If you refrain from bad behavior you will have joy both in this life and in the next,” she said.

“As for my everyday life, I am still able to bathe myself and live a life of goodness, reading the Quran and thinking of Allah.”


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