It's been two years now since I left the teaching profession but it feels like just yesterday that I drove out the school gates. I find it hard to believe that time flies equally fast now as it was when I was still working. Time was the very essence of my entire working life. We worked round the clock to beat the numerous dead lines and before we even realised it, PMR was already round the corner. We had barely enough time to heave a sigh of relief when SPM next made its appearance. Not to mention the extra classes, the monthly tests, the piles of paper work, the endless flurry of activities both curricular and extra-curricular which were physically and mentally taxing to both teachers and pupils alike. But, despite all the groans and grumbles,there was a lot of fun and laughter, too.
Contrary to the popular belief that retirement is often waited upon with a sense of relief and joy, I cringed at the very thought of it. I felt that I was not ready to embrace a life free from the hassles that were part and parcel of a working life of which I had grown to love despite all its shortcomings. I was terrified of facing this new phase in my life without the familiar faces and surroundings I grew to love and adore. I was so preoccupied with trying to figure out how best to adjust my life with the onset of retirement that made me even more confused and depressed. But life has a way of easing things out for a person and in my case, it came in the form of Hepatitis C. In retrospect, I think this new threat was a blessing in disguise.
Just months before I was due to retire, I was told that I had Hepatitis C. Something else which was more serious had suddenly emerged without any prior notice. I was terribly devastated by this piece of news that retirement was no longer of any significance. Ironically, this twist of events, had me waiting for retirement to come sooner to begin my treatment. When the doctor decided to start the treatment exactly one month earlier than my retirement date, I thought I was able to resume work after a few days. Unfortunately, I was so heavily drugged that work was entirely out of question. I was given one whole month of medical leave prior to my retirement. May be it would be of interest to just point out that I somehow knew instinctively that I had to clear up everything, that I had to hand over everything, informally though, before I went to see my doctor the morning I was told to start the medication. So, my conscience was clear as far as work was concerned.
So it was that I started my retirement on a rather sad note. There was no farewell that I knew was planned for me. There were no hugs and kisses, no crocodile tears, no solemn goodbyes, no NOTHING. But, friends and students visited me bringing lots of gifts with them and for that, I will eternally be grateful.
Sometimes fear of the unknown can be even more fatal than the unknown itself. I was driven into state of frenzy everytime I thought of how I was to cope with so much of free time on my hands. I had this notion that the days would drag on slowly and that I would be bored to death. All these negative thoughts were accompanied by several others on the sidelines such as insomnia, panic attacks, vertigo to name a few. Not to mention an erratic reading of the blood pressure.
Now, all those uncertainties are behind me. My life is more organized now. I learn how to live one day at a time. Surprisingly, my days are faster now than ever before. Syukur Alhamdulillah.