Saturday, May 27, 2017

Friends in old age

At the height of my career I was  guilty of not spending  enough time with my parents when they were living with me in their old age. Though this did not bother my father  (as he enjoyed his own company!), my mother who was a more sentimental and affectionate  person used to beseech me to spend more time with her. But I had no more than 5 minutes to spare for her  every other  day. Life has since come a full circle; today I am in a similar predicament.

Most of us who are senior citizens find that our children have all grown up, married and have their own lives to lead. In some cases the spouses have discovered new hobbies which keep them extremely busy; so many of us are in a limbo not having anybody within the family to talk to, when we  want to. Even if we are living under the same roof in a joint family ( which is rare these days)  the interaction between the young and old at best may be for a few minutes every day. All the communication gadgets, particularly the `over smart phone` has ensured that there is very little `one on one` communication even within the family.

It is in this context that I find that having good friends with whom I can interact on an equal and daily basis has become very important. Though I have always enjoyed people and have a legion of friends and acquaintances, today I realize that my friends have become more important to me  than ever before for any kind of sustained conversation. To share the good and bad tidings in my life…to get useful tips for health issues and   generally unwind myself with a captive audience!

Though I have been walking on the beach road in Besant Nagar for the last 42 years, I had never bothered to befriend strangers crossing my path in the old days. It would at best be a courteous `Hi` and `Bye` to some acquaintances I bumped into!  It is only  after I had completely come out of my active professional life that I started cultivating new  friends  during my walks because I was not in a hurry to get back home.
I interact with two sets of friends  after finishing my morning walk every day. One set consisting mostly of septuagenarians and a couple of octogenarians is the `fun` group. When in full attendance there are 13 of us who not only exchange the latest news about happenings in our families and the society but also indulge in a lot of leg pulling, cracking jokes (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian)   and generally have a hearty laugh.  It is really fun time.

The other group is a little more serious and enjoys the tasty Kumbakonam degree coffee served by the Adyar Saravana Bakery near the beach in Besant Nagar which the six of us in the group take turns to host. A brisk walk  followed by a  dose of healthy laughter and a good cup of filter coffee   sets the right tone for the rest of the day for me. I come back fully charged  to spend an active day ahead; which also involves interacting with a whole set of new friends I have made in the literary world  as a writer, author.
Friends are making a huge difference to my life, post retirement.  God Bless them

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