Retirement phase has its own challenges Banks are a hive of activity when Government pensioners are paid. (File photo)

Fadzayi Maposah Correspondent

It was Government pensioners’ pay day this week.

There was a time I would avoid going into town on such a day a few years ago just after my father WaMambo had died. There always was that one pensioner who would remind me of WaMambo.

It was either the dressing, the height, the complexion or how my father carried myself.

So I was at the bank, by the ATM when I noticed that the majority of the people who were either going or coming out of the banking hall were senior citizens.  Initially I thought the bank had called for their senior citizen clients for a special day.

Then came a couple that I knew. They started asking me why I was at their bank on their day.

While I was becoming curious on what day it was, a certain woman the couple knew came out of the bank and started praising them for having come at the right time.

The couple asked why it was a good time and the women said there had been congestion in the bank in the morning.

“You know that as pensioners for many years when we were still at work we used to wake up early so as to be at work on time.

“Getting up early is not an issue for me. So every time I come to the bank in the morning and most people seem to think that they should do this banking business in the morning. So then we have congestion,” she said.

The couple then told her that they had had to attend to something at their plot in the morning, otherwise they too would have come in the morning.

All the while I was standing with them the queue was getting longer. The woman who had come out of the bank was using a walker with little wheels with her handbag carefully placed on the seat.

They enquired what had happened for her to use a walker.

She said she had problems with her back.

They wished her well and when they asked how her husband was, she beckoned to a car that was parked nearby and a man came to assist her.

He greeted the couple with so much joy and I could tell from the smiles that they had had good times together.

Meanwhile there was a young man who was at the ATM.

From my observation, he had tried to withdraw money and it seemed that there was a challenge with his card. The security guard told him to go into the banking hall which was still open and be assisted.

He had gone into the bank and then came back to stand by the security guard telling him that he was back to try again. By this time, some people in the queue were beginning to ask why he kept going ahead of older people. Then the age discussion started.

Suddenly everyone wanted to be older than everyone else. The couple that I was with then said if we were to be served according to age, the young man and I would be at the end of the queue because we were not yet pensioners.

This I disputed. How could I be at the end of the queue with my grey hair?

If there was anyone to be at the start of the queue it would have to be me and my grey hair.

Most people in the queue laughed.

I began to narrate that it was only at this branch that I was made to stand in line. This is because everyone in the branch, knew that I was not old but that the grey hair was part of my genetic make-up.

At other branches, as soon as they saw my head, the security guard would come and usher me to the front or the senior citizens queue.

During the process I would be a very pleasant and well behaved old woman who would be assisted smiling.

I was happy to be among the pensioners.

None of them talked about getting stationery or school uniforms.

I had a loud laugh when one of them confessed that her doctor had said she should not drink fizzy drinks but every pension pay day she had a fizzy drink or even two! I told her that it was dangerous not to follow what the doctor had said.

That statement was not well received by the others, most of whom claimed that at the ages they were at, doctors tended to bar them more than they allowed them to have some things.

As one pensioner left the ATM, the others remaining would ask the individual to treat themselves. I whispered to the woman next to me “Retirement phase must be nice.”

She smiled and whispered back, “Very nice, there are some things that we do not think about these days. Like homework and preparing lunchboxes. Now we have the backache, the occasional pain that one cannot explain, but we are taking it all one day at a time.”

When I had taken my money, I waved at the ones still in the queue.

I am not yet a pensioner.

Not yet menopausal either.

One day I will have both.

Till then I work and deal with my menstrual cycle just as these pensioners once worked pensioners at one point were at work, they still work though not at the same level.

My hormones work, now though in depleted states.

Depleted hormones have their own challenges. Just as it can be stressful to want to be at work and on a full salary when on retirement, longing for abundant hormones can be stressful when they are depleted in menopause. Every phase has its own challenges.

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