Retirement and After
Soon after retirement we had to make a move. I was living in my own flat which I had bought from DDA. Although I was entitled to a Type VII house as Member of the Postal Board they did not allot any. In fact, I was indirectly asked to shell out forty grand for a house which I refused to do. It was strange that a government servant was being made to pay a bribe to get government accommodation of his entitlement. This had happened with a batch-mate of mine, too, who was asked to pay a greater amount, presumably, because he was in the Income Tax Department.
As no house was being allotted, after a few days, maybe a month, of joining as Member, we decided to move into our own flat in Vasant Kunj. We had hardly lived there for a year when (two months before my retirement) an Assistant Director of Estates showed up in my office with an allotment letter of a house in Bapa Nagar. While handing over the allotment letter he said he had a request to make. I exploded as he said that. Just because he had a request to make he had come personally to hand over the allotment letter which was of no use to me at that point in time. The Estate office people thought no end of themselves and acted hard to get. I gave him a mouthful and told him to take away the allotment letter and dump it in a trash bin.
Though of only two bedrooms, the flat in Vasant Kunj was nice and airy. Only problem with it was that it was on the third floor and climbing up and down at least twice a day was proving a little too strenuous for us. We had, therefore, decided to move to Bhopal where the local Chief PMG, a very nice and amiable Sikh, had selected a flat for me on the ground floor. We are still in the same flat even after 25 years. It has a fabulous view of the Bhopal Lake. That apart, I had two of my brothers and the sister living in Bhopal. My wife had her brother with whom her mother too was living here. For about twenty years we had a great time. We would have frequent get-togethers over drinks and dinners. All that is now gone; I lost the two brothers and my wife lost her mother and the brother. Four people passing on from a well-knit family makes a deep dent in it.
We started visiting places as and when it suited us. Soon, however, one morning I felt acute anginal pain in my left arm. The local doctors administered an injection of Streptokinase which reversed the impact of the cardiac attack that I had been a victim of.
It was hunky dory only for sometime as the pain reappeared in a year’s time. This time they referred me to Apollo Hyderabad. I could have chosen Madras but I had a brother in-law in Hyderabad and I thought it would be good for my wife to be near her close relatives. They put a stent and we came back only to find the pain making a re-appearance within a couple of months. After a costly Thallium Test again at Hyderabad the doctor said I should immediately get into the hospital. I refused and I decided to go to AIIMS Delhi. It was true I was in a bad shape as I was increasingly becoming dependent on sorbitrate. A close friend, unfortunately now no more, from my PGI-Chandigarh days arranged my treatment with Prof. Talwar, the HoD Cardiology at the AIIMS. He did the angiography and told me that he did not see any stent in my cardiac region. Stents, I was told, were not visible in X rays but were visible when angiography is done. I was stunned as I was sure Pratap Reddy’s outfit wouldn’t do such a thing. But there it was; Dr. Talwar was a respected physician and his word could not be disbelieved. No wonder the pain had re-appeared so soon. The cardiologist at Apollo Hyderabad had cheated me.
Next day Dr. Venugapal came and checked me out and assured me that I would be alright. Although a very close friend from my school days had died on his recovery table around 20 years ago yet I did not have any apprehensions as since then his reputation had been in an upswing. In 2 days I was back in my room and had no pain anywhere despite having been cut up at several places in the region of my chest. Later I came to know that Dr. Venugopal had done as many as five grafts on me, four of which are still working and the fifth one somehow got blocked but it has developed collateral arteries.
In three months I was fully recovered. In order to keep myself occupied I started writing letters to editors. Initially I used to write only to the editor of the Central Chronicle, the only English language newspaper of the town. I used to write on civic matters and, happily, occasionally they would be taken note of. Then I started writing to the Statesman in Kolkata. I knew that Mr. CR Irani, the Editor, was very tough in so far as the language was concerned. But when my first letter appeared I was overwhelmed. In course of time numerous letters of mine appeared in the Statesman, some as the leading letter with the title as the headline for the “letters” section. I was surprised when a 600 word letter of mine was published without a cut. Those days readers’ responses were given due importance. The post offices would function properly so that a letter from Bhopal to Kolkata would reach generally in 48 hours. There was no e-mail or messenger service then – only physical transmission of messages. With the appearance of the Social Media the importance that was attached to readers’ letters has disappeared.
I used to type out my letters on my portable Silver Reed typewriter that I had bought in Tokyo in 1982. It was a very handsome-looking two-toned machine in Orange and Black. Not only did it make writing less strenuous it also obviated, I suppose, the difficulty in the newspaper offices to decipher the hand-written letters. My brothers advised me to get a computer but I did not know how to work on one. Eventually, I joined an institute run by NIIT to learn to work on a computer. I was certainly the oldest in the class and most of the boys and girls could have been my grandsons or granddaughters. I was reminded of an article I had read in Time Magazine years ago describing how life was changing in America on account of progressive computerization with grandfathers learning the ropes from their grandchildren. Even the teacher Rashida was a slip of a girl. I have lost touch with her whereas the young lady who used to manage the Institute, Farheen Viqas, continues to be a friend on Facebook.
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