was raining in the morning. Karan, lying on the bed could hear the
sound of rain. It is nature’s sound of music. It reminds him of
his childhood days. Now that he is retired, leaving behind 76 springs
of his life, he reached in the last decade of his earthly living.
No, he is not a pessimist but knows the hard reality of it. It has
to end one day. Not withstanding the proclamation made by a spiritual
leader that man will become immortal one day.
Till it happens we
all have to die. If really that happens Karan would like to come
back again and would like to experience the joy of eternal existence.
Of Course, the Bhagavad Gita says that death is not the end of life.
It is a passage to another life. There is no death for soul only
the worn out body dies. Karan really does not understand how the
mind goes out of control to another dimension of thinking.
No doubt it delights
him while pondering over all those wonderful thoughts that make
his living easier. As Buddha says, there is suffering and everyone
has to suffer in life. His solution to this suffering is to renounce
the life of possession, lust, wealth and power. Perhaps very few
could tread that path. Karan does not dare to live a life of renunciation.
He is afraid of losing simple comforts of life, perhaps many are.
He cannot do without a cosy bed, timely food, newspaper, watching
TV and above all meeting friends.
Today he has nothing
in particular to attend to, no tension of reaching office on time.
Although he longed for this time of retirement but actually when
it came he was really missing those days of activity. Oh! Probably
the newspaper vendor will come late, neither he can go out for his
morning walk in this inclement weather. So why hurry! He continued
to lie on the bed. This small one room apartment is a part of this
house which he built after 30 years of service. The other portion
is occupied by his son, daughter-in-law and a sweet grand child
‘Ritesh’. These days the younger generation is buying flats within
5 to 10 years of service. What a difference! He thought. Yes, relatively
life has become more convenient to live, more comfortable. Of course
it’s challenges are multiplied. But in one way they miss out a lot
of other things. They have either to eat the food prepared by a
maid or restaurants that are delivering food to home.
The real homemade
food used to be made by mothers with care is missing now-a-days.
Another aspect he compared and felt himself to be lucky, was the
availability of time. The present generation has coined a beautiful
word ‘quality time’. They spend this quality time with their children
on Saturdays and Sundays and on rare holidays. He has also noticed
the fragile relationship between working pairs and a lack of real
respect for each other. They live together just because of biological
need and social conventions and conveniences. It is becoming more
and more necessary for one’s wife to work to enjoy a respectable
standard of living. People have become more status conscious.
The sudden whistling sound of the pressure cooker disconnects his
chain of thoughts, the daughter in law is at work he surmised. No,
no more lying down. He gets up; puts the bed in order and walks
to the toilet.
‘Dadaji’ Karan could
hear Ritesh calling him. Everyday Karan accompanies Ritesh to his
school. No one has told him to perform this duty. But he likes to
take a walk with Ritesh, hears his story and shares with him some
beautiful moments of his life. When Ritesh holds his hand with his
little fingers, Karan feels as a child. He remembers those early
days of his life. He had to walk a long distance through a forest
area to reach his school. Of course, he always enjoyed the nature
walk observing the birds, trees and the plants.
‘Dadaji’ Karan comes back to present ‘what were you thinking’? “No
beta nothing”, Karan said unmindfully. On the way Ritesh met a school
mate and he tells him about Dadaji. How he enjoys stories from Ramayana
and Mahabharata which Dadaji narrates to him in the evening before
going to bed. In front of the school there was hectic activity going
on. A number of buses coming and hundreds of children are pouring
out and crowding the main gate. Karan carefully negotiated the path
and put Ritesh in a line of children heading towards their respective
classes. Ritesh waved his hand and vanished among the all look alike
children in the same school dress.
By the time Karan
was back home, he found Rahul was having his breakfast. As he was
in a hurry to go to his office he could not wait for Karan. In fact
Karan himself told his son not to bother about these formalities.
Once Rahul leaves for office Karan and Priyanka sit for their breakfast.
Everyday they discuss on some subject or the other. The focus is
mainly on Ritesh, his education, health, character. A development
that would be integral, encompassing all aspects of life, not only
studies. These days to maintain public school standard for the children
is also a challenge for the parents. Every month the parents have
to meet the class teacher and discuss the ways and means to develop
the child further. He feels the touch of corporatization is taking
place in the schools and students are becoming a cog in the gigantic
wheel we call ‘commerce’. However that should not stop them to train
Ritesh with all good virtues of life. Both of them feel, in the
long run, this will infuse in Ritesh the self-confidence which our
younger generation is lacking in spite of having high education.
The door bell rang.
Priyanka got up and opened the door. The maid servant came in. Karan
knew that Priyanka would be busy for the next one hour. In the mean
time he can go to the vegetable market and take time to choose the
best of fruits, vegetable. He does not bargain much. Of course,
these days of Mother dairies and co-operative vendors, there is
absolutely no scope of bargaining. At the same time you have the
freedom to buy as much you really need. Karan met a friend on the
way back. Unlike Karan, a fresher in the life of retirement, Mr.
Parikh is a veteran in this field. He has already spent about 20
years of retirement life. He takes a tip or two from him on how
to sail through this last chapter of one’s life.
There are instances
where the retired persons live like unwanted guests. He is always
of the opinion that each individual of the society should continue
to contribute his mite irrespective of his or her being a handicap
or old or retired like him. Never become a burden on others. If
we could understand the mechanism of the social structure and where
a person stands and how best one could make others life easier,
he thought, all these small irritants of our daily life could be
dealt with easily.
Another aspect Karan
and Sanjay discussed was the health problem. As the age advances,
the body becomes vulnerable to all kinds of ailments. Sanjay suggested
that retired people should start their morning with Yoga, Pranayam
and Meditation under an expert. Or take a long walk in a park. Extend
help to the family as much as they can, read good literature. If
possible join some voluntary organization to keep oneself busy.
This way not only the physical health will remain all right, but
also the mental faculty will continue to be alert. A number of old
people suffer from forgetfulness. It is just because they cease
to remain active in life.
In the evening make it a point to join some prayer meeting, or meet
old friends and talk to them, compare notes. At home play with the
children, teach them, tell them stories, you will find what you
have missed out during your service time is very much alive and
you are always wanted in the family. At the same time keep some
time for yourself, for your own growth. Never cease to learn in
life. More you learn more you become satisfied in life and remain
an important member of the family. When it is time to go, the family
should still want you really. This is life.
Roy Chowdhury I presently
do an outsourcing work for an NRI. I live in New Delhi and love
the Himalayas. I want to visit the Himalayas again and again. I
love writing short stories and travelogues