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Retirement parties with twists & turns

Retirement parties with twists & turns

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo

Arshee Khosla

JUST as death is predestined, the date of retirement becomes a certainty the moment one is selected for government service. As a civil servant, I have attended countless retirement functions. The last working day of the month is reserved for superannuation parties.

On one such day in 2017, a senior officer was set to retire and he had generously organised a buffet lunch in the office. By noon, the tables were cleared, the floor was mopped and large food containers were placed neatly in a row. The lunch had been announced a day in advance, and hence the majority of the staff members, if not all, were without their tiffin boxes. The office corridors were getting a dose of an air freshener when nature decided to shake things up a little. Tremors rattled the building, forcing the employees to scamper off towards the exit. The fact that the structure had been raised back in the 1980s expedited our exodus. Surprisingly, the hullaballoo died quickly and everyone came back, disapproving of economist Milton Friedman’s remark that there was no such thing as a free lunch. I was sceptical to re-enter the building, but was prodded to overcome my fear. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the party was a resounding success as everyone ate like there was no tomorrow.

During these farewell parties, colleagues usually say a few words about the departing employee. It is often a routine affair as the majority of the guests wish the person good health and thank him/her for the services rendered. A close colleague may even recite a poem in honour of the retiree. Family members, too, are felicitated and invited to share anecdotes and experiences. One such gathering was for a beloved staff member. We were joined by his wife, children and grandchildren. Everyone had got their turn to speak. The youngest invitee, the retiree’s grandson, was also keen to chip in.

This was in June 2022, when Punjabis were recovering from the shock of singer Sidhu Moosewala’s murder. The child, barely 6-7 years old, held the mic and sang, ‘Ghare bai kay, ghare bai kay, maariyaan ni gallaan!’ His bewildered mother snatched the mic and started apologising, while the room rippled with laughter. The little genius had managed to hit two birds with one stone: he had paid a tribute to Moosewala and at the same time, conveyed to the audience that his grandfather did not while away the time at home in idle talk.

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