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