It 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.