Created on Friday, 18 March 2011 00:00
Written by Krishnan G.
A few days ago, on one of my off days, I was doing window shopping along the Orchard road belt of shopping centres.
Just as I was reflecting on how calm and serene life was in Singapore, I met an old acquaintance of mine at Centepoint whose present fate saddened me not a little.
He was plying his trade as a hair dresser (and an excellent one at that) at Upper Thomson road (at the junction of Jalan Todak, towards Sin Ming) until sometime 2009.
What struck me most when I first met him was that he is the exact replica of the former Malysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.
When I met him last Tuesday, my first question naturally was where is he carrying on his trade now.
He replied that rents were high and he had to give up his trade.
He is well past 60 in age but before I could assume that he was enjoying the sunshine in his twilight years, I noticed that he had lost considerable weight since we last met and wondered aloud if everything was alright with him for I naturally believed that his three children, to all of whom he gave university education (one even holds a Masters degree) would be taking good care of this amiable old man.
It was not to be.
None of them were prepared to support him and for a while he was working as taxi controller at the Changi Airport but the long hours of standing required of him did not agree with his health and he had to give it up.
He is now employed as a cleaner in Sengkang.
If only he had acquired some management skills and opened up a hair dressing saloon himself....
There was no point in going through all that with him now.
His plight however reinforced in me what has all along been my dying resolve, that I would never cease working until my dying day.
Yes, I would have my regular short holidays every few months or so and enjoy my time at home reading my favourite collection of books in addition to family banter, get togethers.
No one however is going to tell me to quit my job and rely on handouts from others.
Mankind has for a long time been schooled into believing that life after 60 is one for relaxing and living on past savings.
Nothing can be more injurious for the health, both physical and mental.
One of the most famous catchphrases in the advertising world is a line from Levi's, 'Quality never goes out of style'.
Likewise, whatever skill one acquires over the years one may rest assured that those skills would never leave one.
All one has to do is to sharpen those skills, add on new skills and learn to do things better.
I am nearing 60 now, took on a new job six years ago where I had to struggle in the initial four years coming to grips with the job and warding off jealous colleagues who saw me as a fearsome competitor.
Today I am happy with what I am doing despite the fact that my ten working hours every day are as intense as any other on earth for any man.
Still, if someone were to offer me a fresh job opportunity tomorrow where the terms are attractive I would have a go at it with the same burst of enthusiasm as I had when I was out looking for my first job as a young full Lieutenant in the Provost Unit of SAF more than 33 years ago. For, just as Cliff Richards sang that he would remain a 'Bachelor boy' until his dying day, I would remain a working man until my dying day.