A 'Worthless' Retirement Gift ....

by Retd. Prof. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava
(C-3, Janakpuri, New Delhi, India)

Two things bonded us together. He played an excellent game of cricket and I was a keen great lover (not player) of cricket.

Our residences were in close proximity to each other. Once in a while, when one of us had to take casual leave from the college, we would deliver our leave application to the other. We never visited each other in a social way, but I would often meet him on the road or in the market. I liked him a lot, but he never showed any friendly feeling towards me.

We worked for the same employer. He reached retirement age much earlier, since he was older to me. A Farewell Party was scheduled to take place on the last day of the month. I did not want to give any gift of value since we were not friends. But since I admired him a lot, I did want to give him a parting gift on his retirement.

I wanted to buy a gift which would be cheap, but not look 'cheap'. A few days before the planned Retirement Party I saw a flute seller near my home. The flutes were priced from INR 10 to INR 150. I bought two flutes for INR 10 and gave one to my grandson. The other flute I reserved as a gift to my colleague. My grandson could not play the flute and he broke it down within two or three days. I gift wrapped the other flute and kept it for future use.

At the end of the farewell speeches in my colleague's retirement party, he was given many gifts. I also gave the flute to him and we shook hands for the first time in our life. He stopped coming to the college. Once or twice, I heard the sounds of flute being played in his house. Since we were no longer working together, I gradually lost touch with him. Years passed.

Then one day, I read the newspaper announcement of his death. Since the Terahveen (13th day Funeral Service) was to be performed in a Hindu Temple near my home, I went to the temple.

There were some 200 people who had gathered for the ritual. People who knew him closely stood up to speak and pay him tributes. Many of them paid their tributes to him as a good cricket player. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear one man praise his talent in playing the flute. It seemed that he had mastered the art of playing the flute and was also giving public performances on flute.

The simple and cheap flute that I had gifted him on his day of retirement had been turned by him into something of great worth and value. Thank you, dear friend ! I should have better known your talents. Alvida !(FAREWELL!)

Retd. Prof. D.K.Srivastava,
New Delhi, India,4 Mar,2013

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The story of the broken flute ....
by: Retd. Prof. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, C-3, Janak Puri, New Delhi, India

Commenting on my story of my very ordinary and 'cheap'gift of a flute to my colleague on his retirement, a fellow member of our retirement online group asked me "I wonder where that flute is now?"

I do not know what happened to that 'cheap' flute that I had bought from a road-side flute seller. Such sellers are very common in Indian cities. They would carry a long pole with hundreds of flutes protruding from the straw-wrapped pole. The flute seller would expertly play some Hindi film song on the flute and you would be tempted to buy a flute from him. But when you try to play the flute, you are unable to play any song. So, you soon get tired of the flute and discard it. But my fellow retiree friend practised on that cheap flute I gifted him on his retirement and mastered the art of playing the flute.

Some fifty or so years ago, a young man visited my Nana's (Nana = mother's father) home to see a girl for the purpose of marriage. He weas a musician by profession. We asked him to sing a song for us. He said that he could not sing but if a flute was available he would play the flute.

My Mama (mother's brother) went to his room upstairs and brought an old broken brass flute. The musician boy asked us to suggest a song that he ould play. I suggested a popular film song "Maiyn Piya Teri Tu Maane Ya Na Maane ..." He mesmerized us all with his beautiful and melodious playing of that song. Later, he also played the DHOLAK (a twin drum Indian percussion musical instrument) when the would-be bride sang a song. The marriage was settled. The musician later rose to be an important music director in the Indian film industry.

Retd. Prof. D.K.Srivastava,3 Feb 14

Sound behind the Gift.
by: Ashfaq Gulzar Pakistan

It is a wonderful story, I enjoyed very much because perhaps I could not understand it? Flute is with me being the sound behind the gift.

A "Worthless" Retirement Gift
by: Retired Traveller

Thank you for your beautiful message. It warmed my heart. Your simple act of giving him that flute, came back to you years later and resulted in that meaningful and beautiful word - karma!


by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

What an interesting story. Unusual relationship though, between the 2 of u! Enjoyed reading your story, seems he treasured that flute, wonder where
the flute is today?

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