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A teacher's lament

My retirement a year ago made me fully agree with American poet Richard Armour, who wrote: "Retired is being twice tired, I have thought, First tired of working, Then tired of not." Aswant Kaur Gill writes

chandigarh Updated: Sep 06, 2012 19:17 IST
Aswant Kaur Gill
Aswant Kaur Gill
Hindustan Times

My retirement a year ago made me fully agree with American poet Richard Armour, who wrote: "Retired is being twice tired, I have thought, First tired of working, Then tired of not."

I had known of people getting insane at the very thought of retiring from active service. I had seen a dashing principal getting bout of depression as his retirement drew nearer. He would start crying like a child and we had a tough time consoling him. It was during this time that I found and learnt to use soothing phrases such as "Retirement is not the end, but a new beginning" and "Retirement is a blessing", etc. However, I was never the one to agree with these lines.

As my retirement drew nearer, many a concerned colleague came to console me. They would ask me how I felt. "Sad" used to be my answer. I also never lost a chance to criticise the government's policy of retiring us teachers at the age of 60. I always felt that one is not old and "retirable" as long as one is physically and mentally fit.

"We teachers have a lifetime of experiences and skills to share with our students, so why deprive them of benefiting from our knowledge so soon?" used to be my lament.

"The system cannot be challenged and we must toe the line" was a fact I found difficult to accept. I was retired by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan on the due date.

After having followed a routine for nearly 40 years, it was tough to curb my urge of getting up early in the morning to be ready for school.

For some days, I got up early as usual, got ready and sat in the balcony of my house to see my colleagues and students going to school. Waving to them and exchanging pleasantries in the morning was what I enjoyed for a few weeks till I had to shift not only out of the house but also the country, which I did with great pain in my heart.

Contrary to my belief that I would find it difficult to make myself like my new life away from the familiar surroundings, I took to life in the US like a fish takes to water. The best benefit I got by going to the US was that I stopped missing going to school. I got so engrossed in the completely different lifestyle, the beauty of the country and the culture that I almost forgot that I had lost something in the near past.

"Your retirement is a blessing for us, ma. Otherwise, it would not have been possible for us to have you here with us in the US." The words of my son sounded beautiful and true to my ears. We went for outings, saw new places, and had beautiful experiences with multi-racial people. I thanked my retirement for all that.

All good things must come to an end. On the expiry of my visa, I had to come back to my dear motherland.

Being back to one's moorings is wonderful. I am happy to be back, but the memories of my life spent with my students have also come back. The fact that I cannot share my experiences with my students like I always did whenever I went out to see new places makes me sad. Again, I wish that my department had let me continue sharing my feelings with my dear students at least for a few more years.

The writer can be reached at

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