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Retired hurt and aching

Adding to this general discomfiture were my neighbours who peeped out of their windows and balconies and commented: 'Oh nice to see you in the garden. Festival preparations appear to be in full force after retirement!'
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 00:43 IST
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 00:43 IST

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While festivals mean chores for women in general as they are the ‘flag bearers of tradition and culture,’ how working women and retired women look at festivals is distinctly different. I belong to the ‘retired’ category and hence these thoughts.  

The Ugadi excitement starts a month prior to the festival. Right from rushing to shop during sales in the market to the cleaning of the house and planning the menu, discussions also begin well in advance. This year, it was the first big festival after my retirement. Unable to curb my enthusiasm born out of a sense of freedom, I made an elaborate list of things to do. Since I am retired now, I have all the time to plan and implement my plans at leisure, I thought. After all, I didn’t have to abide by the rigid 9-to-5 routine.  

I promptly cleared out cobwebs inside and outside the house, threw out all the unwanted things and revived my garden. On the eve of Ugadi, I was engulfed in a feeling of inexplicable satisfaction. I felt as if I had achieved something special as I could never imagine pulling off such an elaborate cleaning feat while in service. So much so that my maid, and my cook, said: “Amma, now after your retirement the house looks clean.” Though they meant it as a complement, I felt a pang; as if I lived in dirt all these years. I don’t know if the maids really liked their job. But their comments made me feel guilty for having been a working woman.

Adding to this general discomfiture were my neighbours who peeped out of their windows and balconies and commented: “Oh nice to see you in the garden. Festival preparations appear to be in full force after retirement!”  

Cleaning done, the menu for the festival was next on the agenda. Since I had the time, I planned an elaborate traditional meal to be served on the plantain leaf. The lunch spread kept growing and so did the grocery list. I was all set for the festival, with everything planned to a ‘T.’  But I was still anxious and couldn’t sleep the previous night. I had not experienced such anxiety even for the toughest of meetings with my higher authorities while in service. 

I woke up early with mild aches here and there. I took my time to decorate the gods with garlands and flowers and to do the pooja. Then on to cooking. In the heat of summer, I accomplished grinding, frying, roasting and mixing. When I finally sat down at the table for lunch with a huge spread, I was too tired to relish any of the dishes. I forgot the plantain leaf which promptly went into the dustbin.

I am presently nursing nagging aches in my back and leg. The recurring thought in mind now is “Oh God! Why did I retire?” 

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Published 17 April 2024, 00:43 IST

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