Life Beyond 9 to 5

By Staff Feministaa in Editor's Pick 16/10/2018

I am sure one doesn’t need to elaborate on what ‘9 to 5’ stands for. Most of us have spent our entire youth to get the best ‘9 to 5’ possible, which we try to proudly reckon with to the best of our efforts.


So much so, we tend to define, identify and assess our self-worth purely on the basis of our ‘9 to 5’. We’ve heard a plethora of motivational speakers, famous authors and renowned entrepreneurs telling us a lot about how life is much more than our measly jobs. But, that has never stopped us or hold us back from asking the most famous question to our friends, whom we might have met a decade later, i.e. “Where do you work nowadays?” 20 years gone by, and this is the best question we come up with!! Our economic net worth, our happiness quotient, our intellect, our success parameters are all judged by what we do between 9 and 5. Well, I too had successfully allowed myself to become an active participant of the popular corporate rat race.


This, until the day my 58-year-old mother seemed a bit upset because of the change in format of her newspaper’s crossword puzzles. She asked me to lodge a “complaint” to the newspaper’s editor about this abhorrent change. It, of course, sounded like a bizarre request, but she was quite adamant that I let them know about her predicament.


A typical day for my mother starts with waking up, tying an untidy ponytail and then rushing to the living room to grab her hands on the newspaper to check the answers to the crossword puzzle.


There are a total of 6 members in my family, and once all of us leave for work, the only thing that stays back throughout the day with my mother is her newspaper crossword puzzle. It’s a sight not to be missed, the gleaming smile when she gets all the correct words as if she has conquered the world.


Since the time I remember, my mother, though very bubbly and vivacious, was very insecure about her communications skills in English. She started solving crossword puzzles since the time the newspaper had started publishing them. And since then, her vocabulary and her uncanny knack of getting the correct spelling of the most difficult words to pronounce, has amazed us, to say the least.


These crosswords have given her company on all lonely afternoons, since the last 20 years or so. You must witness the riot she causes on the days the newspaper agency fails to deliver the newspaper. A lady, who usually do not step out of the house, trolls up and down the building, knocking on every neighbour’s door, asking for whether the newspaper wala left her paper by mistake at their doorstep.


All of a sudden, one morning, I saw my mother sitting with a rather grumpy face that too without her untidy ponytail. I thought my father must have once again put on a news channel the night before, thereby making her miss her favourite TV serial. But alas, the matter was much more severe than I had anticipated.


She pointed out that the answers to the crossword puzzle were printed on the very next page and that she gets tempted to look into the answers. She said this has spoiled the fun and the anticipation of looking for the solutions the next morning. The mystery, the drama (better than her TV serials) had suddenly vanished. She said the crossword seemed like viciously smiling back at her as if inviting her to commit a sin. Her crossword was no longer the charming, mysterious, patient teacher who taught her wonderful words every day.


All this might sound very strange to people like us, who probably have many so-called “important worldly (read 9 to 5) things” to complaint about. However, for a mother who has spent countless afternoons with her crossword puzzles, a part of her world had changed. It’s difficult to make a 58-year-old mother understand the phrase “to move with time”. Her romance with her puzzles turned out to be stronger than I would have imagined. While the rest of her world had moved on and changed, she wished her crossword puzzle to stay loyal to her till the end.


I wonder if our generation would ever be able to appreciate or kindle an iota of romance with anything that is not engulfed by our 9 to 5 jobs. Will we ever be able to discuss our favourite poems, novels, paintings or music when we meet our friends after 20 years?


Let’s not turn into machines or programmable beings, let a part of us never change and let’s try becoming someone’s favourite and a loyal crossword puzzle.


Written by Rishiraj Bannerjee

Staff Feministaa

Feministaa is your happy space, where you will get your daily dose of motivation!


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