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					                                             On Retired Life

                                       Prospect And Retrospect

                                             V. SESHA AYYAR

                                            Consulting Actuary


                 Visualize your retirement day. The farewell function, eulogies from your friends and
critics on the qualities of your head and heart (qualities your never imagined that you possessed),
parting gift (which invariably takes the shape of a wall clock to be used when time is no longer of any
consequence to you), the handshakes, the trek back home, and then … the vacuum.

                To many, retirement is just trading one set of problems for another. You are, no doubt
spared of the office responsibilities, no more commuting between home and office, no more nine-to-six
routine. With the load off your head, do you really feel free, happy? No Sir, you do not, because you
keep racking your mind over new sets of problems, some real, but most of them imaginary. To name
some; do you feel ignored and unwanted having had to vacate your chair in the office, with nowhere to
go and having no authority to exercise? Or are you peeved at reports that your successor in office is
performing better than you?

               Having said this, let us see what a retired person looks like at close range. He is 32”
around the chest, 45” around the waist, and a nuisance around the house. Take a note of a bulge in the
middle. Your spouse might feel that after retirement she sees twice as much of the husband on half as
much income. Have you ever reflected that everyone wants long life but no one wants old age?

                 Speaking for myself, one fine morning, standing before the mirror, I was rudely
awakened to the effects of the passage of time on my physical profile. I vaguely knew that I was getting
thin on the top, but I was not prepared to see it practically barren. This led me into the habit of viewing
angles of my profile hitherto considered inaccessible. Mirrors fixed at different positions give you this
view. Suddenly I felt I was facing someone whom I had met before. However, I was quick enough to
make peace with the stranger.

                 I recall a cartoon in the now defunct Punch magazine. It depicted two flies walking on
the head of a bald chap. One fly tells the other “When I was young this used to be a footpath with
overgrowths on both sides. It has now become a highway”. Falling hair, like leaves in autumn has a
bright side too. To a person who complained of getting thin at the top, his doctor commiserated “Man,
you are lucky. Suppose your hair started like your teeth and had to pulled out with the doctor’s help
would it not be worse?”
                 Retirement seems like a golden age when it is fifteen years away. It looks like an oasis
from a distance. You conjure up visions of life when you can cool your heels and put your feet up and do
all the things you have always wanted to do. Or simply do nothing. But in reality things turn out to be
different because your age is against you.

                   The older one gets, the urge to do things the youngsters do, gets pronounced. A
second, childhood syndrome begins. What happens now? You reach the lift wheezing and perspiring
and discover that the lift has downed tools. You have to climb up and realize that the rise of the
staircase steps is steeper than before. Earlier you used to do two steps at a time; now one step at a
time is itself a strain. Everything is further than it used to be. The distance from the house to the
railway station is twice what it was before. The trains leave sooner. I have given up running after them
because they start faster when I try to catch them.

                What with impaired vision, news paper printing is getting smaller and smaller. The only
way to find out what is going on is to have somebody read it out to you. This does not help since people
speak in low tones that I can hardly hear them. The weather is changing too. It is getting colder in winter
and the summer is getting warmer than in the past.

                 All this happens, when you have outlived the biblical span of life, viz., three score and
ten years. This is the time of life when you start living on spares, thanks to advances in medicine and
surgery. Artificial dentures, plastic eye lens, borrowed kidney, transplanted heart and what have you. A
change of heart makes you a new person altogether. The new hearing aid you have acquired enables
you to hear clearly. You had only a vague suspicion of what was being whispered behind your back. You
now realize how ungrateful some of those whom you have helped can become. Our only means to hit
back is to change your will and cut them out without a dime.

                 It is paradox in life that during the weekdays a working man looks forward to a Sunday
and when Sunday arrives he just does not know what to do with it. To a retired person the problem of
leisure is the most baffling problem of all. So activity of any type is welcome. At the close of a
convention of pensioners the chorus went up “Long live the pensioners”. When the din subsided a low
voice was heard “On what?” The answer is to get busy with an activity which incidentally will bring in
cash. The late George Bernard Shaw aptly sums this up “The secret of being miserable is to have leisure
to bother about it whether you are happy or not. The cure for this is occupation, because occupation
becomes a pre occupation, and a preoccupied man is neither happy nor unhappy but simply active and
alive. A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of hell”.

                 The sanctuary for the pensioners during the evening outings is the park, where there is a
daily meeting of the senior citizens’ club. Exchanging symptoms is the main conversation topic. About
acute arthritic pain is traded for a bout of asthma. They keep abreast finding out the doings of the other
members. With the insurance fraternity the new assignments taken up, range from operating an
insurance agency to a self appointed consultancy.

                What baffles me is that retired insurance men are wiser on how to run the insurance
business. Alas! A wisdom denied to them while in office! “The present management should do this, that
and the other” is what you hear. You hear of their plans to launch an agitation to persuade Life
Insurance Corporation to implement a pension scheme to retired insurance men. During their active
service these very people had been canvassing and selling pension schemes to clients! What an irony.

                At home, the generation gap can rundown even the smartest of the old sect. The
grandpa is getting the grandchildren to sleep with his age old stories. The elder one, obviously bored,
whispers to the younger child “pretend that you are asleep. Then he will stop”. A school going child
when told that his grandpa has gone to hospital for some tests remarked “Hope he will do well and get
good marks.”

                A primary school boy when asked why he was not going out to play with his friends said
“My grandpa does my homework. Unless I keep a close watch on him he does not finish it”. There is
another naughty joke. A pot-bellied grandfather was joking at his daughter (who was on the family way)
about her bulging tummy. The grandson who was overhearing this gave him an appropriate repartee
“Grandpa: remember mother pot-belly is temporary but yours is permanent”.

                 The following commentary on the various stages of life is very appropriate.

                       “Man comes into this world without his consent and leaves it against his will.
On earth he is misjudged and misunderstood.

                          In infancy he is an angel; in boyhood he is a devil; in manhood he is a fool; if he
has a wife and family he is a chump, if he remains a bachelor he is inhuman. If he enters a public house
he is a drunkard, if he steps out he is a miser.

                           If he goes to church he is a hypocrite; if he stays away he is a sinner. If he gives
for charity it is for advertisement, if he does not, he is stingy and mean.

                       When he comes into the world everybody wants to kiss him—before he goes
out everybody wants to kick him.

                      If he dies young there was a great future before him. If he lives to a ripe old age
everybody hopes he has made a will.”

                                                                                                 COMPILED BY:

                                                                                    S.MANNAR MANNAN, CSS,

                                                                O/O CGM, BSNL TN CIRCLE, CHENNAI 600002

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