Retirement is a stage of life that most workers look forward to. It’s a time to rest from regular work for the rest of one’s days. For some, it means rest but for others like ninety-year-old Nwana, it means death.
He believes that the moment he stops working, he will die.
He’s a painter and painting makes him feel the blood in his veins. He loves painting houses and old age has not changed his passion and expertise.
It began when he turned seventy and refused to retire, his children did not understand why he kept working at his age. It became a thing for concern when he turned eighty-five. They knew what people were going to say – no one caters for his needs. But all their effort to stop him failed.
‘Force your father to stop now before he dies working!’ People say.
And his children try all the tricks they know to make him stop, including soliciting with his clients to stop giving him work. Nwana finds out and summons them and says, ‘ I know you care about me but if you care about me, let me live my life the way I want. It’s my life. If I die living my life, it’s my death as well. Please, let me be..’
‘No papa, you must stop. It’s not good for you. And People are talking!’ The youngest says.’ They’re laying blame on us!’
‘Well, let them talk.’
‘You must stop or I’ll make you,’ the eldest says.
In the night while Nwana sleeps. They gather his painting tools and burn them to ashes. Nwana wakes up early in the morning with no tools for his day’s work. He searches for them until he finds out what happened. His children burnt his tools. I force-stop him.
He stays at home the whole day in silence and his children think they have won. But he calls them again in the night and gives them a warning.
‘Before tomorrow’s dusk, I want to see all my tools in my hands. That’s all I have to say for now.’
He gets his tools back and keeps working into his 90’s, and everyone fixes wide and condemning eyes on his children, who are in the position to support his used life.
But each time Nwana sees their sympathetic stare, he wonders if they think old age is a time to sit around and depend on others. He’s not tired. He’s strong and healthy enough to work. Why do they insist on retiring him?.
Nwana turns 92 and his strength fails him. He’s forced to stop painting. He only stared at his tools.
Ten years later, he’s still alive and knows that what keeps him alive is neither work nor rest,
It’s not yet his time.