High school reunion typically means re-building the network, an opportunity to show that you’re fit and healthy, flaunt your career achievements and feel how far you’ve reached from the good old days.
That was my expectations for my high-school reunion meet in December 2019. Thanks to social media, about 40+ of the boys and girls were able to connect through Whatsapp group. We left high school in 1975 and moved to different cities for college/career, so we have not met in person for 45 long years! It was a co-ed school at that time now it has become boys’ high school.
The high-school was called ‘Boiler Plant High-School’, in a town called Trichy about 200 miles from Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu State in India. There are major industries run by Government that make thermal power equipment and another one on defense products. Since most of us were now in 60 years young, we were not planning sports events or dancing parties. Some of us can’t even quickly get up from the chair and go fast to the podium to give introductions. That reminded me of the saying ‘we sacrifice health for wealth in working years and spend the wealth to get back health at retirement years. What started as a long-due meetup ended in many lessons for each one of us.
Girls were much more planned with dress codes and events, boys decided just to get up that morning and show up. Some girls complained that how their childhood dreams were stopped just after high school. Yes, 45 years back most of the families in India had one goal. Let the girl finish high-school and wait for her to reach 18 years to get married. Some of them realized, their dreams can be re-started again at 60s given the technology and newer opportunities. Looks like employees complaining about company management on their own career, while they have all the control in life to follow their dreams.
Many of the students shared how their life took some bad turns after high school like losing the spouse early in marriage, children’s health, job losses and lack of career advancements. Emotions ran high when they share that having school batchmates helped them to release their pent-up feelings. The meet was having some sort of counseling effect on them. Many broke-down with joyful tears how they have crossed all the hurdles now and how their children are able to support them morally.
One student’s job till his retirement was in HR, where he has to help employee’s family in the plant who has died suddenly. He had handling more than 350+ such cases over three decades. As expected, the families were clueless on the sudden death of the wage-earner. No wills or trusts created. No idea on what to do with the final settlement amounts. The children were not having technical education, otherwise one of the children can potentially get the job in the plant as family benefit. Business and life are similar. No amount of pre-planning is enough to handle the surprises.
In the end, the hugs and the looks from the eyes were different. The message was we are here to take care of each other as we move into next phase in retirement life. There were lot of dissimilarities in the group but having studied 11 long years together brought us together for life. It gave a new perspective to life after running for career/wealth all through working years of life.
Matt Ravikumar work as a JDE functional consultant in the ERP sector. His works are available in www.mattravikumar.com and in www.cartooncartons.com. His recent published books are available in Amazon under author search, Matt Ravikumar.