Retirement should not a punishment for growing old

I smiled back when he smiled at me.

“Could you hold this for me?” He asked, handing a heavy suitcase to me as he threw an oversized coat around his shoulders.

We were both standing at the bus stop, waiting for a minibus, when our eyes met.
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“Let me have it now, thank you. I have to leave with bike or else I'll be late for work. Have a lovely day ahead” I nodded, managed to mumble “You too” and folded my arms as I watched him trudge slowly away.

It wasn't the first time I had seen an elderly man on his way to work but this one was clearly older than working age. I wondered why he hadn't retired yet.

There was no single black strand on his head and he was already well bent over. Who would keep someone like that in employment?

I sighed and shook my head.

I was still in deep thought when I got to Folu’s house. She had pleaded with me the day before to come over and help her take off her old braids then make a new one for her.

“You know that is home service, Folu. I'm charging more” I told her over the phone.

“Are you not my Yoruba sister again? What are sisters for?”

“There is no family member in business o. Are you paying or not?” I was trying my best not to giggle so she would take what I was saying seriously.

“Take it easy ma. I'll send you transport fare” she said. I eventually laughed at that and true to her words, she sent a thousand naira. That was more than enough to take me to her house and bring me back.

Folu and I met at the microfinance bank in the university campus. She was ranting in Yoruba about how there were only 2 people at the counter attending to the 50 plus students who were at the bank.

I have a bias towards people who can speak the Yoruba dialect because I was born and raised in Yoruba land so I immediately replied her in Yoruba.

We have been friends ever since then.

Folu opened up immediately I rapped on her door.

“Hi Treasure, welcome. What should I offer you? Soft drink or food?”

“Water please, in fact, if you can get ice block” she screwed up her nose and flickered her lashes at me.

“Why didn't you ask for snow?”

We both burst out laughing. Folu was one of my best girls even when she didn't roll with my clique of friends at school.

She brought me a lukewarm bottle of water because that was all she had then we started with the hair. We were barely gone halfway when someone rapped at her door.

“Please my child, let her stay with you. I'll be back soon” was all I heard as Folu came in with a toddler.

“Ah…whose child is this?” I asked in a low tone, just in case the person was still around.

“My sister. There's this elderly woman in our compound who has turned me into a babysitter o. She works in a clinic so she keeps her child with me sometimes”

“What if you're not around?” Folu shrugged. “Besides, isn't she too elderly to have this kind of baby?”

“I think it's her grandchild. I'm not sure, I've never asked her.”

I sighed suddenly remembering the old man I met that morning.

“That was how I met a really old man this morning on my way here. I wondered why he was still working at his age, someone who is already bent and has gray hair all over his head”

Folu sighed and dropped the sleeping baby on her bed.

“I thought Nigerian civil servants retired at 60? How come these ones are still working?” she asked

“Thank God you said civil servants. Private firms have their own policies. Whatever the policy is from 60, at most 65, people should be granted retirement. It's totally unsafe for old people like this to keep working themselves to the ground”

Folu sucked her teeth lightly and turned to see if it disturbed the baby. When it didn't, she turned back to me.

“The old people themselves, do they want to stop working? My grandmother went to the farm till she was 82 years old. She was forced to stop because of arthritis and eventually died a year later. She didn't like to rest, it was like punishment to her”

I shook my head and sighed.

“Let it be made a law then, that from 65 nobody should be found working. They can go to their farms, open stalls or pursue anything they are passionate about.”

Folu shrugged and returned to sit so I could continue with her hair.

“Please make my hair, whether you make it as a law or not, people will still forge their ages to work when they are old”

I laughed. She had just spoken the absolute truth.

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It is indeed quite unfortunate that this is what most societies are facing. The elders that should be relaxing and eating while waiting for when they would be called to glory are still the ones hustling like youths.

Some of the cause is late marriage and late child rearing. When a man marries at 60 and his wife is already 45 and they have a child, who will send for that child till the child becomes an adult?

Another factor that causes it is greed. Some are used to that monthly earning it daily bribes that if they stay without it even for a little while they won't be contented.

Then there's the workaholics who derive joy from working round the clock.

Then there's the workaholics who derive joy from working round the clock.

I like that you mentioned this part. There are people who can't really stay without working. Working brings them joy and satisfaction and retiring will feel like a dead sentence to them.

Yep that's true 😁😁

👍 !PGM

Thank you

👍 !PGM

People should continue to do the activities they enjoy until they want to; everyone has something to offer the younger generation. Thank you for sharing dear @iskawrites . A big hug from Maracay.

Exactly, it is not easy for something who knew work all their lives to shake it off because they want to follow society's protocol and retire early. Thank you for reading and the hug. I appreciate you, sir.

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Brilliant addition to Memoir Monday. Thanks, Iska!

Thank you so much, sir

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Some elderly people choose to work so they can make their mind and body active. They feel if they retire, it would be boring and they feel that sickness would overtake their body if they stop working.

That is very true. I know a lot of old people who choose to work rather than stay idle.