Prepping for the inevitable: Retirement

Prepping for the inevitable: Retirement
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Retirement — a word dreaded by many. What does one do when they retire, is a thought not many ask while they are still active in service. Should one leave the inevitable of life as a postscript, or does one make serious plans so that their transition into a retired life is a smooth one?

Rosie Rashid's routine life was disrupted upon retirement from her position as a primary school teacher. Teaching was an experience she enjoyed thoroughly and she had groomed many generations of students in her career spanning over 40 years.

"All my life, I was a devoted professional and that was my primary identity. I did not plan for my retirement. And now that I have entered a different phase of my life, I am lost," she said.

In her mid-70s, Rosie Rashid feels an emptiness in life and a void she cannot fill, even though she tries to keep herself busy with other work. She has advertised in the media looking for teaching assignments in the Uttara area of the city, but to her dismay, is yet to receive any positive response.

Rosie Rashid is not alone in her experience. People of Bangladesh hit retirement at the age of around 60 and most find it difficult to find future work in their fields. Although the workforce can benefit from their experience, traditionally it is uncommon to see individuals remain active once they leave their jobs.

Prepping for the inevitable: Retirement
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Rosie Rashid accepted retirement as an inevitable part of life. Yet, there are those who refuse to consider retirement as an option. Naseem Iqbal worked in the administration department of a school her entire life, and although she had reached an age when most individuals in the country would retire, she feels she can never truly leave her profession. "I have always wanted to start a poultry farm, and perhaps that is my retirement plan," she said with a smile.

Her husband, Iqbal Ali is a retired Major, and echoes Naseem Iqbal's emotions that retirement is perhaps never a part of their life's plan.  The couple being horticulture enthusiasts promote the hobby of cultivating orchids, and they hope to continue to do so for the rest of their lives.

Many consider life after retirement a burden. Meet Rashid Ahmed who is leading a fulfilling life after retirement. He now spends his time on hobbies and activities, which his busy career as a Bangladesh Air Force Officer did not allow him to pursue. He keeps himself busy through physical exercise, fuels his wanderlust at every opportunity he gets, and keeps himself busy with his coin collection on days that are slow. He also maintains a good rapport with his former colleagues and spends time maintaining the old relations.

"One should prepare for retirement when they are active," believes the retired Air Commodore. "For every working person, it is inevitable that one day they must retire, and it is wise to have a sound plan for leading a healthy life after retirement," he added.

Pinu Haq, a retired community healthcare specialist, shares her journey of retirement. She retired in 2011 and was full of ideas to put her retirement to good use. After trying her hands at consultancy for a few months, she realised she should start something she can call her own. Thus, began the journey of a development organisation that works with the welfare of female adolescents in her ancestral home.

"My time was well-spent, until COVID struck. The spread of COVID meant my project had to cut down its activities and although the spread of the coronavirus has subsided, the project is yet to gather its past momentum," said Pinu Haq.

She added, "For the first time since my retirement, I am experiencing boredom and frustration. I have little or nothing to do all day. The days that I spend with the children a few days of the month are all that I look forward to.

"I used to write but for the last few years, the spontaneity of my writings has diminished. Now, I spend the days watching TV and reading the newspaper — that too is a disheartening affair, as the country and the whole world seem to spiral down into a depression.

People like Pinu Haq, although full of energy at the beginning of their retirement often face this phase where everything seems pointless at times. "One should remain active in whatever way they can. Whether it is taking care of your grandchildren or continuing to do similar things, life post retirement is not free from every struggle. And that perhaps is life!" she said.

Following the footstep of her husband Rashid Ahmed, Sherifa Ahmed, now in her late 60s, is planning for her retirement. She has already made contingency plans through her pursuits, which she believes will keep herself busy in the future. "One should take every day positively as they come. And that attitude is something one should carry in their hearts throughout their lives," she said. 

World Senior Citizen's Day is on August 21, let us all remember to celebrate our elders now and always.


Models: Sherifa Ahmed, Rashid Ahmed, Iqbal Ali, Naseem Iqbal, Rosie Rashid


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