As my retirement drew nearer my colleagues, including my juniors started expressing concern about the pit-falls of post-retirement life. Sitting around me with grim, sullen faces they would create an air of gloom and anxiety which could have been mistaken for some grave danger. In order to delay this ‘calamity’ they advised me to put in a request for an extension in service. But having spent 35 years of my life in dispensation of my duties I wanted to call it a day. I wanted to spend some quality time in pursuit of passions I had ignored in pursuit of my profession. On the last day of my service a sumptuous tea party was arranged to bid me farewell and I heaved a sigh of relief saying goodbye to a run-of-the mill job. I felt myself as light as a feather while leaving office for the last time.

On my way home, the road looked different; the woman roasting corn at the bend of road suddenly became attractive; the dirty street leading to my house had a cleaner look and the boys chewing pan at the corner shop smiled at me. Entering home, I found my wife calm and poised. So you have retired she said with a tinge of sadness in her voice. I replied in the positive and she inquired why I had not asked for an extension, thus started the slide from grace.

The very first morning of my post-retirement life it was blissful. In a relaxed mood I browsed through the fresh newspaper without fear of missing the community van. This was more than enough to falsify the unwarranted anxiety shown by my colleagues during the last days of my service. Within a few days my wife’s bitterness became more prominent as she held my retirement a detriment in her performance of a religious obligation abroad. She would often vent her ire by pointing disdainfully at my books, saying. “What do you get from reading this trash?”

I realized that my presence in the house was as irritating to her so I decided to visit neighbors. Libraries were another haven for a fugitive like me and I started frequenting one in my vicinity. The frequent outage of electricity, however, took a toll on my already falling eyesight, besides causing me headache, it prompted me to return home.

During all this my wife became more aggressive in her fault finding and she blatantly would call me lethargic, irritating, ill-clad and what not. Then, as if Allah took pity on me a neighbor offered me a job. He was a real estate agent and required services of an assistant.

The next morning I got up early, took a bath and after having breakfast told my wife that I had found a job. There was a smile on her face after a long, long time. Strange are the ways of life.

MUHAMMAD ASLAM,

Lahore, February 11.