Sad Retirement Party:
What happens when you just keep to yourself ....
by Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava
(C-3, Janak Puri, New Delhi, India)
She was very beautiful. slim, very fair, with very cute features and a sensuous walk. But there was no trace of a smile on her face. She would never look at you. She would never talk to you. She appeared distant, like a pretty portrait on a wall.
She had joined my college as a lecturer. She did not introduce herself to anyone nor allowed herself to be introduced to anyone. She collected her work schedule from the college office and began taking her classes without communicating with anyone.
Her silent, stern demeanor discouraged people and no one came forward to befriend her. She never responded to any personal invitations and never attended informal parties. She did her work very efficiently, collected her salaries and kept aloof. In due course of time she got married, not inviting anyone from among us, had two or three children (I do not know for sure), became middle aged and then silver haired. However, she continued to look pretty even in her 40s and 50s. And then, the day of her retirement arrived !
As per normal college tradition, a farewell party was arranged. Such parties were quite common in the college. There would be a meeting in the large staff room, with all teachers present, speeches will be delivered by other teachers. The Principal would speak at the end, and finally the retiring teacher would be requested to speak. There would be a lavish lunch at the end. The party would normally begin at 12 noon and would take 2 hours or so.
Her farewell party proved to be unique. No teacher was willing to speak. The Staff Secretary was able to persuade, with much difficulty, just one teacher who agreed to speak. He stood up, smiled, and said “Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for giving me the opportunity to speak in this farewell party. But I do not know what to say. I know nothing about her except her name. We have never become friends. We also never quarreled with each other. I have no memories, no anecdotes about her to tell you. I wish her all the best in life.”. There was a thunderous round of clapping, not in joy or cheer, but just as a gesture of amused mocking.
The Principal stood up to speak. He too had the same problem. He spoke for about 10 seconds. The presentation of farewell gifts took, may be, about two minutes. Then the retiring lady was requested to speak. She stood up and, without a smile, uttered just two words “Thank you !” and sat down. The Farewell Party ended in less than 10 minutes.
It was a little past 12 noon when the party ended. The Secretary stood up and informed us that the lunch was not yet ready and that it would take at least one hour for it to be served. He then requested the teachers present to hold some sort of an informal entertainment program. Now, the party came to life. There were many songs, poems, jokes and a lot of laughter and friendly banter.
The retiring lady did not show any feelings of embarrassment. She continued to sit with a stern face. The laughter and good mood of the teachers continued during the lunch. I can never forget that farewell party.
I remember my own retirement day and the Farewell Party. That party ended at 3-30 PM. I gave my Farewell Speech in the form of a poem, during which I had tears in my eyes. I had to embrace almost every male teacher and shake hands with the ladies. My Farewell poem (in Hindi) was later published in the college magazine. The memory of that day will always remain etched in my soul.
New Delhi, India, 19 Feb, 2012
I place this under Retirement Parties as a reminder to party planners... if there is to be a program, there must be something
to do! Normally this isn't an issue, but if it is, think twice,... before the party happens!