Their experience and their age make them achieve respect of the younger generations and inspire their followers to attain not only personal growth but also that of the community they are living in.
In July 2022, my housing society had scheduled its 5-yearly elections for the managing committee. The incumbent Chairman and Secretary urged me to file my nomination as well, apart from other hopefuls. I declined the offer politely. Their contention was that since I am retired, I would have ample of time to devote in managing the affairs of the society. I said, I may have retired from my profession of ad sales consultancy, but I have been pursuing my passion of writing. Incidentally, two of my novels have been published and currently I am working on my third. In true sense of the word, I am not retired. As a writer, I would hang up my boots only in the grave. They understood my contention and relented.
They had been elected in 2017 and came back again on everybody’s insistence, that too unopposed. Their wide acceptance and popularity is derived from the fact that during their 5-year tenure, they have contributed immensely for the betterment of the society. The entire 3-wing building had been renovated along with a fresh coat of paint, many new and significant features including CCTV cameras for members’ security had been installed, the security agency had been changed to replace the lethargic guards by more agile ones, convenient arrangement for parking of two and four-wheelers had been introduced, gathering of members during festivals and days of national significance were organized, and so on.
Children were encouraged to participate in the society organized sports events and education-oriented competitions. The society garden had been spruced up and more trees had been planted giving a clean and green look creating a pleasant environment. Correspondence with local authorities had become efficient and prompt, municipal taxes were paid in time, accounts had become proper and transparent. The Chairman is over 73, he had been the Deputy Registrar of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal; the Secretary is 65 and continues to be occupied in the legal profession, a few other managing committee members are also senior citizens and no longer employed unlike during their active bread-earning days.
A housing society is a microcosm of the universe at large. My society, in particular comprises of 112 flats housing people of diverse languages, religious beliefs, native cultures and traditions and yet everyone cohabits to prove Vasudhaiva Kutumbakum. Obviously, the not yet retired managing committee members have found their calling and have been contributing their mite in creating a harmonious residential complex for the over 100 families.
I know an Assistant Commissioner of Police, the station head at the precinct across my society. He is an ardent animal lover and has founded an organization called PURE ANIMAL LOVERS. This body protects the voiceless creatures from cruelty, arranges to sterilize stray dogs and cats, regularly feeds them and has a team of legal experts in its fold to ensure free and speedy justice for the mute animals. His work has been recognized by his superiors, his peers, various NGOs involved in animal welfare activities as well as the general public at large. He has won several awards and accolades in the process. He may demit office one day when he attains the stipulated age-limit, but will he ever retire from following his love for the helpless animals? Isn’t he contributing, in his own way, in the maintenance of biodiversity so much necessary for a civilization gone awry in its avaricious pursuit of self-aggrandizement?
I have been a voracious reader since very early in life. At the age of 13, I had an opportunity to read the ABC OF RELATIVITY by Albert Einstein. At 18, I have read Lokmanya Tilak’s Gita Rahasya in Marathi. The other authors whose work I have savored over the years have been innumerable, particularly Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India, Mahatma Gandhi’s My Experiences with Truth, Kanhaiyalal Munshi, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Veivekanand, Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austen, Somerset Maugham, Ayn Rand, Irving Wallace, Alistair Maclean, Arthur Hailey, Harold Robinson, Jeffrey Archer, Agatha Christie, James Hadley Chase, John O’Hara, Mario Puzo, Robert Ludlum, Arvind Adiga, Bunny Suraiya, P P Balachandran, etcetera.
These thinkers and writers have left a profound impression on my mind, which has helped me grow as a person, overcome upheavals and hurdles in life and also pursue my own passion of writing. So, when I say that I will hang up my boots only in the grave, haven’t I found an opportunity to keep myself active and occupied as I turn 70 in a couple of months from now and beyond?
Undoubtedly, writers have a tremendous responsibility of inspiring readers for generations ahead that could help them shape the destiny of the progenies and contribute meaningfully in building and sustaining civilization. I have many friends from the field of literature, over 85% of them being writers through various social media platforms. We do share each other’s works too. A Facebook friend, Nuranis Ravi has recently written a book titled MANGO TREE. This book talks about the importance of growing more trees in the current global warming scenario and avoid cataclysmic damage through earthquakes and tsunami, rampant flooding during heavy downpour across the world, devastating cyclones and hurricanes and similar other manmade disasters. I recall the review posted by a reader of Mango Tree that mentioned that he was so much inspired by the book that he has started planting trees wherever he can.
Such is the impact of a writer’s imagination. Every story has a moral behind it. Writers will never and shouldn’t ever retire. So also people like the members of the managing committee of a housing society or a police officer have by virtue of the position they have occupied or are involved in at present, tremendous influence over the multitudes. Because their experience and their age make them achieve respect of the younger generations and inspire their followers to attain not only personal growth but also that of the community they are living in. These are a few examples of how senior citizens can help the nation to grow.
Akshay Shroff has been a successful advertising sales consultant of domestic and international media, spanning almost four decades, first in New Delhi followed by Mumbai.
He has been associated with Voluntary Organizations like the Lions Club and the Junior Chamber International in senior positions and also with trade bodies viz. the Delhi Advertising Club and the Press Club of India.
His debut novel, THE MONK was first published in June 2016 and it had sold several thousand copies within a month of launch, earning the National Bestseller tag.
After the phenomenal success of the same, he has converted his passion for writing into a full time engagement resulting in this second novel, a sequel to the first, THE MONK RETURNS. The Croatian edition of the book was published in 2021 and he’s currently working on his 3rd novel, ‘The Gamechanger Monk’