It happened in the middle of autumn year 2019. His flight delayed and I reached airport to receive him according to new flight details. It was already mid night, a man appeared and said,” It’s me; That’s my name”. A skinny, tall,old man with a travel bag and wheeled suitcase was pointing the placard of my hand.
‘Oho, hi, Namaste, and very warm welcome in Nepal, Philip, I’m Kumar.’
We exchanged greetings and I asked about his journey and reason of flight delay. He explained it has been 26 hours since he left his home, needed to fly three connection flights to reach Kathmandu from Canada, among them one of the flights was delayed because of weather.
‘The journey was good, but long. How long will take to reach hotel from here?’
‘Just 15 minutes, our airport is in middle of city’. I tried to carry on our conversation.
‘Oh, it’s very near, mostly the old cities has one of their old airports in middle of the city.’
He mentioned many names of those cities which he has visited. He was explaining about the airport of San Diego which is just 1.5 km from downtown. I interrupted him and asked how old he is. He smiled and he said, ‘I retired in this summer and celebrated my 80th birthday two weeks ago, and this is my first travel after the retirement.’
It was confusing me, why he was saying he just retired at the age of 80. What type of job was that where one gets retirement in such an age?
He noticed my interrogative eyes and asked me,’At what age people get retire here?’
He asked me a very difficult question. I wondered how to answer him and about which profession.I know some of the professions where people work until the day they die. The small entrepreneurs, self-employed labors, and the huge population of our country who are engaging in small farmland whom government has given the occupational title as ‘farmer’ never retire. And a very interesting occupation we have in this world, that is politics. In political career there is not any rule policy of retirement even politicians are in death bed.
My father retired from his post when he was just 58 years old. He was second class government officer of Nepal Government. One of the ‘idiot’ prime minister of 3 decades ago suddenly decided to change the existing policy and applied a new rule just to fulfill his party’s followers and my father who has lots of experiences of government administration and responsibilities of his children became pensioner at middle age. An experienced government officer receiving retirement allowances last 28 years and government is paying him just for made his post vacant for its followers. In this country retire people from government job hardly get any other job. Mostly they live in home, watch television and spend time in social media. Babysitting is most available job for some grandparents either in country or abroad where their children are permanently settled. Some active pensioners participate in talk programs at community’s tea-stalls or join some public protests under civil society.
Is this our working culture? I asked myself, should I give such information about the age of retirement and behaviors of our retired people. Definitely it’s not our culture. According to our culture the whole human life is divided into four Ashrams (stages of life). Total human life expectancy is hundred years and the first twenty-five years as study period, then another 25 years for earning, marriage, produce children, strengthen financial status. The third stage of life starts 50’s onward. Here, we should practice our spiritual life, where we must start to shift our obligations and social responsibilities to our children, it happens up to age of seventy-five. Then, the final stage of life starts, here no attachment for anything, live as an isolated creature, so that when you die any time, it will not any affect your family, society and in this world.
When I was just ready to explain about the living stages of life and age of retirement, the hotel where Philip was going to stay arrived.