Two timely questions. The second one very personal, yet so universal. Like trying to figure out belatedly, “Who Am I”? The one word question “So?” is more disturbing. Guys surreptitiously conveying “what are you sleeping about, wake up”? Or implying, “How come we don’t know”?
Where will you settle? I reply that actually I was well settled all this time. It is retirement that is unsettling. When will you vacate the gorment house? No hurry I say to myself.
Then urgently apply to retain the accommodation for another 4 months; only to be told that for 4 months you can keep it anyway. No need to ask or apply to anybody. You can retain your gorment house even longer, if you can come up with a good, false excuse.
That you knew all your life when you will retire doesn’t matter at all. Same people also ask, “Have your children settled”?
Aren’t you going to buy a car, the wife reminds, more alarmingly as the D-day approaches. How do you expect me to move around?
Knowing that there will be no gorment car anymore and not trusting me to drive, she chips in “We can keep a driver, so much unemployment”!
There are then the fellows who have hanged around your office, changing yet unchanged, your steno and the Class IV you eventually come to like or have gotten used to.
It is the withdrawal of their constant services, from paying bills to getting your passport or driving licence or frequently getting your dead telephone line live again; that is probably dreaded the most, post retirement.
What many may lack in competence, they make up in servitude, and flattery: “Janab jaise uffser nahin dekha”, leaving you to sometimes wonder what they actually mean, since they said the same thing to the guy before you and will probably to the one after you.
Yes, but after retirement what will I do without them?
Nobody asked, “How will you handle that creeping yet inevitable loneliness”? Not that I have not been lonely yet. I will start playing cards and watching soaps.
Reading gives me a headache (from reading too many nonsensical files while in service), but I will now listen to music and all my favourite songs and others which I missed, even when they might make me more lonely.
Some earnest friends had years earlier hinted that “spreetual” pursuits in old age or senior citizenship anyway, are a sure and tested way out. “Don’t remain wayward even if gorment gives 50 % off on train (and air?) tickets to all those temptations” they cautioned.
They knew that on being reminded of my advancing years and unchanging ways would make me break into “Abhi to main jawan hoon” but that would not deter them from veering me away from a sinful past into a reformed retirement.
An intelligent option would be to go gourmet. But by the time you’re sixty, doctors, diabetes, dodgy disorders, sudden death and so forth have foreclosed that option.
Vegetarianism and the fitness delusion have further blocked exploring any worthwhile gastronomic avenues for the old and open minded. What do you expect me to do in retirement?
What I have observed, however, is that with passing years, misbehaving kidneys and failing livers (not to mention having to pay for your drinks in a lonely planet), it takes much less booze to either be on Cloud Nine or to pass out.
In both cases the state (or statelessness) of mind is perhaps nearest to the enlightenment my well wishing friends had wanted me to at least realize in retirement!