Venkatesh Rao of Ribbonfarm had said in one of the essays that:
If your identity was defined by your job, you never really had a real identity.
Yes, it sounds very common sense and logical. But it is not. I am talking about my dad's generation.
My dad joined an insurance company in his late teens and retired from the same after 35 years.
My dad was the sole breadwinner for our joint family. It was a huge one. My dad had four brothers and two sisters. My granddad didn't have a fixed income. We all benefitted hugely out of my dad's stable job and a steady salary. It was a luxury. My dad was particular of marrying a woman, who has a focus on career and also a regular job and salary like him. My mom was a bank employee.
From whatever I remember of my childhood, mine and my younger brother's focus had to be only on education — the only known weapon of the lower-middle-class families in India.
My dad really sweated his heart and soul out in the big insurance machinery. It was inevitable for him to adopt the identity by his job. He steadily climbed the ladder in the organisation. He was quite popular in our town and the nearby villages, because of agriculture insurance and cattle insurance.
My dad also had a relatively decent network of friends and colleagues, mainly because of the insurance company. He also had friends from college and hometown and a relatively huge set of relatives. But he gelled well with his colleagues and acquaintances because he merely spent a lot of time with them. Conferences, deputation, transfers and blah blah, kept him very occupied. He enjoyed the challenge.
Meanwhile, the family also progressed; his brothers and sisters were getting married, had children. My brother and I were growing up and had to move from schools to colleges. My dad and my mom fuelled the engine of our family with their salaries. (I will have to write separately and in detail about my mom's contribution in her efforts.)
Bottom line is: for my parents, their jobs were their primary identity, or it was as close as their identity as a mom or dad or a son or a daughter.
Given this condition, I had persuaded my parents to retire, after me and my brother started working and making good enough salaries.
My mom handled the impact of retirement very gracefully, but with my dad, all hell broke loose.
(... to be continued)