Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Am I Ready for “Departure”…?

During my days in the Navy (the Military Navy) – which is considered dangerous profession – I never had thoughts of death”. 

And now – in the relative safety of retirement – thoughts of death sometimes come to my mind. 

Quite ironic – isn’t it...?

And – during those moments when I think of death – I ask myself: 

“Am I Ready for “Departure”...?” 

Read on...

A Spoof 



Around 30 years ago – in the 1980’s – when I was travelling by the Deccan Queen – I was pleasantly surprised to see an uncle who was in the Army.

He was delighted to see me too. 

I changed my seat – so that I could sit next to him on the 3 hour journey from Pune to Mumbai.

He told me that he had retired from the Army on superannuation a few days ago as a Major General.

Then – he said that he had taken up a job in Pune – in the industry – and – he was going for a training course.

“Training…? At this age…?” I asked him, surprised.

“Well – I am only 56…” he said.

(Those days Major Generals retired on superannuation at the age of 56 – later the age of superannuation was increased by 2 years for all officer ranks – and now – Major Generals retire at the age of 58)

“You are 56 – and – you want to take up a new job…?” I asked him.

“Why not…? I still feel young – and – I want to work – in fact – I am most enthusiastic about this new job – there is so much I want to do…”

“Which firm are you joining…? I asked him.

He told me the name of the industrial firm – it was a famous and reputed organization – probably the largest in Pune – or even in India.

“Oh – that’s great…” I said, “so – what are you joining as…?”

“DGM – Deputy General Manager – I will be working in HR and Training…”

“You are joining as a mere DGM…?”

“Yes – why are you looking so surprised…?”

“You were heading a premier military training establishment…” I said.

“That was before I retired. Now – I have to unlearn all my military training and begin afresh. And – by the way – I am only 56 – and it is never too late to start learning…” he said.

He talked with passion about his new job in “Civvy Street”.

I was impressed by childlike enthusiasm.

Despite having “retired” – he had a “zest for living”.

I had a few classmates who worked in the same industrial firm which my uncle had joined.

A few weeks later – we had a get-together of classmates – and – I asked them about my uncle.

They were full of praise for him – the way he had rejuvenated the training in that organization – his MBWA (Management By Walking Around) Style (earlier – Senior HR Executives never walked on the Shop-Floors talking to Workers) – they were all really impressed by my uncle – his positive approach and style of working.

Those days – I was on a ship based in Mumbai – so – whenever my ship was in port – I often came down to Pune on weekends.

On one such visit – I happened to see my uncle getting down from his company bus.

Yes – he was travelling in his company bus (his firm was known to be rather “egalitarian”)

Also – those days – in Pune – the “industrial off” was on Thursdays – and all industries worked on Saturday and Sunday.

So – though for me it was a “weekend” – for my uncle – it was a working day.

I ran across and greeted my uncle.

He was happy to see me too.

“So – have you come to Pune on weekend…?” he asked me.

“Yes…” I said, “And you…? How come you are getting down here…?”

“I wanted to do some shopping – then I will walk home…” he said.

(His home was around 3 Kms away)

“Let’s have a cup of tea…” I said.

“Of course – where…?” he said, enthusiastically.

“How about “Good Luck”…?”

“Great choice – nothing to beat a good cup of Irani Chai…”

We walked down to “Good Luck” Café – and soon – we were sitting at a window table relishing the delicious tea.

I pulled out my cigarette packet.

“Wow – “Benson and Hedges”…?” my uncle exclaimed.

“We get them “Duty-Free” on board ship…” I said – and – I offered him a cigarette.

“Well – actually speaking – I have quit smoking a long time ago – but then – this special occasion – I think it calls for a smoke – so – I will make an exception…” my uncle said, and he took a cigarette from the pack I had proffered towards him.

He spoke excitedly – about his work – about his plans to introduce new innovations in training – about his visits to campuses for recruitment – he really seemed to be enjoying his job – and he was eagerly looking forward to implementing all his ideas and doing good work.

I told him that my classmates were full of praise for him and appreciated his working style.

My uncle seemed pleased on hearing this – and – he said to me: “I am so happy that youngsters like my work – but – you must ask them for honest feedback too – so that I can continually improve…”

“Yes – I will ask them and tell you…”

“I wouldn’t mind meeting them informally – youngsters have great ideas and I can always learn from them…” he said.

I said that I would arrange a “party” on my next visit – and he heartily agreed to come. 

After tea – we parted – and – I saw my uncle walk away with a spring in his step at such a brisk pace – a speed that even youngsters would find it difficult to walk.

I was truly amazed at his “zest for living”.

Yes – even after his “superannuation” from the Army – instead of “calling it a day” and living a “retired” life – he was enjoying his “second innings” with a childlike enthusiasm – enjoying – “living” – every moment of his life.

Yes – despite his advancing years – he really had a “zest for life”.

A few days later – I got a telephone call.

“There is sad news…”

“Grandfather…?” I asked (my old grandfather was bedridden with prolonged illness)

“No. Uncle…”

“Which Uncle…?”

“The one who was in the Army…”

“What…? The one who was a Major General and is now working in “XXX” company…?”

“Yes. He died last night...”

“But how is that possible…? I met him a few days ago. We had tea together. He was “hale and hearty” and very cheerful. In fact – I was going to have a party for him with my classmates – and he had promised to come. How could he die so suddenly…?”  

“He died peacefully in his sleep. They say it was a heart attack…”

“Oh My God – it is very sad – I can’t believe it…”

“His funeral is a 5 PM in the evening…”

“I am starting right now – I will be there…” I said.

There were a large number of people to pay respects to the departed soul – his Army Colleagues – mostly Veterans and a few “Top Brass” – a huge number of coworkers from his company – friends and well-wishers.

I felt very sad.

He was not ready for death.

He wanted to do so many things in life.

He had such a “zest for living”.

He did not want to die.

He wanted to live.

But – death snatched him away.

However – looking at it from another angle – he died happy.

He had not “hung up his boots” (as they say)

He “died with his boots on”…!!!

He died when he never expected to die.

He must have gone to sleep thinking about the exciting things he was going to do the next day.

But – he never woke up to do those heartening things he was looking forward to doing.

Is there a happier way to die than this…?

Isn’t it best to die when you still have a “zest for life”…?

I too want to die when I still have a zest for life.

I don’t want to live when I have lost the zest for living. 

Dear Reader: What about you…? 



At the end of Part 1 “Zest for Life” – I had concluded:

“I want to die when I still have a zest for life.

I don’t want to live when I have lost the zest for living…”

Now – let me introspect.

At this very moment – as a “young” senior citizen in my early 60’s – I still have a “zest for living”.

But – how long will my “zest for living” last…?

As you grow old – just like a machine cannot always remain in “tip top” condition – your body also ages and becomes old – and you start having age-related health issues.

There are “aches” and “pains” – and – you can’t do all the things you could easily do in your younger days. 

I love to eat – but my teeth are no longer in the best of condition to eat all types of food that I used to eat earlier – and I have to be careful.

I have to wear reading glasses – and rest my eyes from time to time – to avoid “dry-eye”. 

I have to take care not to over-exert myself and exercise moderately. 

But – all said and done – I still have a zest for life 

I haven’t sunk into “geriatric depression” – though – once in a while –“gerontophobia” creates negative thoughts within me – especially when I see old people in misery. 

I have heard many such miserable old people lament: 

“old age is a curse” 

All this makes me say to myself:

I want to die when I still have a zest for life – and – I don’t want to live when I have lost the zest for living…”

And then – I ask myself:

“Am I ready for “departure” from this world…?”

Let me introspect and try to answer this “moot question”.

There are 3 aspects to your life:

1. Your Work Life

2. Your Social/Family Life

3. Your Personal Life

Let me start with my “work life” 

Am I ready for “departure”…?

On the “career” front – my professional career is over – and – I am “useless”.

I was not a “job hopper” – I spent my entire “working life” in the Navy.

A few years ago – I retired from the Navy on attaining the age of “superannuation”.

Please note – I did not take voluntarily “pre-mature retirement” – but – I was honourably “pensioned-off” – since I had reached the “age of superannuation” – an age beyond which I was considered “useless” (superannuated).

I have done whatever I was supposed to do in my vocation – and now – work-wise – I am redundant and “useless” – as far as my professional expertise is concerned. 

My “expertise” is no longer valued or required by anyone.

So – I have nothing left to offer in my “trade-craft”.

As far as my “profession” is concerned – I have done whatever I had to do – I have nothing left to do – and – I am ready for “departure” from this world.

Yes – “professionally” – I am ready for “departure”. 

So – as far as my “work-life” is concerned – I am ready for “departure”

Now – let us see my status on the “family” front – am I ready for “departure”…?

As far as my family is concerned – my so-called “worldly” obligations are over.

Both my children are pursuing their own professions and living their own independent lives. 

My children are self-sufficient. 

They no longer require me – nor do they need my assistance.  

In fact – I suspect that they consider me a “nuisance”.

As far as my “Better Half” is considered – I have provisioned quite well for her.

In fact – strictly from the “materialistic” point of view – she will be much “better-off” after my “departure” – than she is now.

Moneywise – she will get a generous “family pension” – my savings – my investments – benefits of my insurance policies – and – of course – our house etc etc 

To put it in a nutshell – she will inherit “all my moveable and immovable property” – and “materialistically” – she will be quite well-off after my “departure”

Of course – immediately after my “departure” – she may experience a bit of “administrative inconvenience” – she may miss me “administratively” for the various “jobs” and “chores” that I do as a dedicated “househusband” and her “manager” – paying bills, banking/financial management, daily household shopping etc. etc. – but – since she is intelligent and capable – and she is a quick learner – so – I am sure that she will be able to manage all her affairs very efficiently in due course.

Emotionally – I really don’t know whether she will miss me too much – since ours is not a “love” marriage.

I am quite a “solitary” person – especially after retirement – a “recluse” – a “loner” – but – unlike me – my “Better Half” is “gregarious” by nature – and hence – she fosters good relationships – she is so emotionally involved with her children/mother/sister/friends/relatives etc. etc. – that – she will forget me pretty quickly – and – she won’t miss me at all.

To elucidate this point – let me give you an illustrative analogy from literature.

If you have read the inimitable novel Catch-22 – in Chapter 31 – is vividly described – the story of Mrs. Daneeka – wife of Doc Daneeka – who is declared “dead”.

At first – on hearing the news of her husband’s “death” – Mrs. Daneeka is distraught.

But soon – money starts flowing in – huge insurance amounts, widow’s pensions, various gratuities, ex-gratia payments, allowances and various types of monetary benefits – a substantial fortune – and – Mrs. Daneeka realizes that – strictly from the financial point of view – she is much better-off with her husband dead – rather than alive.

While – financially – she is cheered by her new measure of wealth – socially – not only does she gain sympathy – but she also experiences a new feeling of freedom.

So – Mrs. Daneeka quickly overcomes the “grief” of her husband’s death – and – she moves on in life. 

In fact – sometime later – comfortably well-settled with her newfound wealth and social status – she appears to be pleased that her husband is dead.

Just like the “happily ever after” story of the “bereaved” Mrs. Daneeka – I feel that it will be a similar story for my “Better Half” after I “depart”.

In fact – I have seen this happen to many women  who become “better off” after their husbands “depart”.

So – once my “Better-Half” becomes “Better-Off” (pardon the pun) – yes – when she becomes “better off” – hopefully – she will forget me pretty quickly – move on in life – and she won’t miss me at all.

In fact – no one will miss me after I “depart”.

Thanks to my “abrasive” personality, moody behaviour and petulant nature – very few people get along with me – in fact  no one likes me. 

Some may “tolerate” me  but no one likes me. 

My relatives don’t like me – and – I have no friends.

The only “person” who loved me was my pet dog Sherry – but sadly – she passed away to her heavenly abode some time ago.

In fact – Sherry loved me so much (and I loved her dearly too) – that she would have missed me terribly – if I had “departed” when she was alive.

But – as far as humans are concerned – no one will miss me after I “depart”.

Hence – from the “socio-familial” point of view – I am ready for “departure”.

So – both from the “work/career” and “social/family” points of view – I have no utility value left – I have nothing left to offer – and – I am ready for “departure”.

Now – let me see whether I am “ready for departure” on the personal front.

Have I done whatever I had to do…?

Have I nothing left to offer…?

Let me think.

I have just one thing left to offer – my unwritten thoughts – my stories – the stories germinating and perambulating in my mind – the stories in my mind – waiting to be told.

Yes – I have to tell the world all the stories germinating and resonating eagerly inside my brain – waiting to come out.

That is the only thing left for me to do now – to tell my untold stories. 

I have to write all the stories in my mind and post them on my blog.

That is all I have left to offer to this world – all my unwritten writings dwelling in my mind  my stories – my thoughts – my “wisdom”.

And once I have written all my stories and posted them on my blog – I will be truly ready for “departure”… 

Now – this is a mammoth task – because I have got so many untold stories to tell. 

So – Dear Reader – let me get busy – and let me write all the stories germinating and perambulating in my mind. 

And once I finish writing all my unwritten stories – and once I finish posting my stories on my blogs for everyone to read – as my legacy for posterity – I will be ready for “departure”. 

Dear Reader: 

Tell me – are you ready for “departure”…? 

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1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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