Earning Relationships- The Best Investment of Silver Years
Intrigued by a comment from his son, Yashpal Mehta, The Smiling Souls member, decided to earn relationships as he grew older. He tells us how it’s paid off.
This is a story from twenty years ago. My son had started working with an investment banking firm based out of the USA and I was a middle-aged professional in a very staid job as an audit partner with an international firm in Muscat, Oman. I used to pride myself as someone good at work and thought monetarily I had done well, until one day, my son who was still a fledgling at work, came up and said, “Dad you have saved money and not earned it and I want to earn money.” I was taken aback by his remark and at the same time, it made me wonder.
Innocent as it might sound, the remark did mean a lot to a boy who was all of 22 years and all starry-eyed. His goal was to earn as much as his dad who was on the wrong side of 50. I went back in time, did some mental math and discovered that my first salary of Rs 1,500 was almost twice that of my father’s at that time. It was the inflation that made the difference perhaps.
William Wordsworth said ‘The child is the father of man’. So was my son as far as I was concerned as he had perhaps unknowingly, opened a new path for me and a new way of looking at life. I did not start earning money as I was too old to change my income-generating pattern. I started ‘earning relationships’ instead.
My resolve to nurture and curate relationships got strengthened after watching a movie titled ‘Dilli 6’. In the movie, the protagonist returns from Canada with his grandmother to her former home, a chawl in the Delhi 6 locality. The young lad is asked by the neighbours to come to their home to have a meal and the boy says he is not hungry. To that, the wise old man in the group makes a profound statement: “Who on earth is calling you home to satiate your hunger? We are inviting you to build relationships”.
It was true and pathbreaking for me and that changed the way I looked at relationships. I began to spend more time with people, seniors, youngsters and children. I would ask the seniors about their family, their children’s names, what they were doing, and then began to maintain a diary with all the information. The next time I met an acquaintance, I would make it a point to enquire about his children with their names and how they were doing. I discovered how easy it was to convert acquaintances to friends just by recalling the names of their loved ones and knowing what they were doing. Remembering birthdays is another easy way of getting into the ‘heartbooks’ of people. The diary that I maintained included important milestones of every person I know.
Several parents would come up and say, “Oh the children these days have a mind of their own and one cannot get them to do what we wish them to do”. I decided to be a senior uncle instead of an old uncle to them and offered a menu of activities that would appeal to their young minds. I roped in the youngsters to join the Toastmasters, a forum for improving leadership and communication skills; arranged for online motivational programmes where they could be equal participants and empowered them to organise events including musicals and theatre.
A simple gesture of giving them a sum of money helped them to prepare a budget, keep a record of expenses and develop negotiation skills. Traits like these would make them better individuals and good managers. I have quite a few of them as my relatives now.
My recent activity is with the school-going children. I have three grandsons and I’ve started storytelling sessions and word games with them. I send them words to make sentences with and they send back the replies on the phone. The idea caught on and has now extended to children living in the same building. The story sessions are something the kids look forward to. The Kid Brigade is now the new kid in my relationship block.
My better half sometimes says that I am wasting my time as the world at large is suspicious and selfish. Her typical response is that I would be better off just reading a book and keeping to myself. I brush aside her worries and continue with my relationship-building exercise. It does give me tons of happiness.
With apologies to Mark Twain, I am looking for the day when my son would say, “when I was 20, I thought my father was just a saver and when I turned 40, I realised how much my father had earned.”
Disclaimer: The article first appeared in the online magazine of Silver Lines.
Author: Yashpal Mehta
Yashpal Mehta is a CA, a Cost Accountant and a Company Secretary and retired as a partner with a multinational accounting firm called BDO. After moving to Mumbai in the year 2019, he now provides counselling gratis, loves to write and keeps himself engaged in myriad activities. Mehta has been a member of The Smiling Souls for over a year now and is keen on making new friends and earning lifelong relationships.