Today, I retire.
Retirement is often a pseudo-haven, incarcerating the unaccomplished, the unfinished and the unforeseen realities. The predicament of retirement escapes nobody, and this old, crippled woman that I now am thinks of her legacy. The journey had involved much work, struggle and, at times, pain, but I had stood by Aristotle and his revered words about endurance being the greatest part of courage.
Distinguished, from everything and everyone, is the legacy I am about to leave behind. I sit on the rocking chair, scanning the room, waiting for something to draw my attention, and there it is: a crevice in the woodwork stares right at me. Had it not been traversed by a beam of light, this crevice would otherwise be office furniture. This ray of light through the crevice I find analogous to the impact of a scholarship I was granted many, many years ago when I was a nobody and had nothing.
The strange but entrancing high-pitched tone of “Breaking News” on television shifts my gaze away, where the first footage of the brand new national oncology specialty center is about to be broadcast. Olga walks in to remind me to get ready for the inauguration ceremony of the same. This was akin to giving birth. As I get up and hobble to my desk, I catch a glimpse of the six-hour old newspaper, propped open on page four, with some morning coffee stains and croissant crumbs. “‘The Implementation of Stem Cells in Cancer Research, No Longer a Continuing Saga,’ Announces the Health Minister as She Retreats to Her Quarters, after Thirty Years of Loyal and Dedicated Service to the Country.” The thought of those arduous days in the political arena brings a smile to my lips. Memories of my endless, resonant paces on the parliament floor and the numerous bills passed flood my head. The journey had been long indeed but well-fought.
As I walk to the door, I pick up the white coat from the rack. It looks pale white, sensing that this might indeed be its last trip out before it becomes part of office furniture. The first time I held a white coat, was on the step of medical school. Back then, I was much more preoccupied with maintaining its impeccable whiteness. After a few years, this narrow thought evolved, like all things do with time. This white coat had been in the company of many and had sensed fears, worries and agony at times, which gave it a particular ghostly whiff. “Retirement” would have to wait. The legacy would only be complete if it were always kept on a hot pot with coal charring.
At seventy, life was only slowing down but never ending.
Rayda Aaishah Joomun
Morcellement Saint Andre, Mauritius