So my dad retired yesterday, after working for 36 years at BHEL. That’s 60 per cent of his life.
There was a grand function at his factory yesterday, a send off party. Four other people retired along with him. There were 200 people in the hall to send them off. People went up on stage to say nice things about the retirees. I think more than 20 people spoke, with words of praise for all the 60-year-old retirees there.
Yes, 60. The retirement age. I still can’t believe my dad is 60. He can easily pass off as a 35-year-old, with his lean mean physique and jet black hair. Save for the greying moustache, nothing can give away his age. I don’t think he believes he’s 60 either. Recently in April, he had an angioplasty. Everyone was mighty surprised about it, because my dad has always been the healthiest guy around. He tirelessly works from 6 in the morning to 9 in the evening, and by work, I don’t mean sit lazily in front of a computer. I mean physical work. He worked at a factory that manufactures porcelain. He worked in the Quality department there, so he had to test everything, life heavy things and move about a lot. His colleagues said he can’t be replaced. “Ramesh is Quality. Quality is Ramesh,” one of them said, while speaking about him on stage.
The audience at the function was offered the chance to go up on stage and talk about my dad. Despite ten people already having spoken about my dad, a girl a couple of years older than me went up to the dais. Her name was Jaya. She was an apprentice under my dad and worked at BHEL for a year. During that year, my dad encouraged her mentally and financially to go ahead and study whatever she wanted, and now, she’s working at Indian Space Research Organisation. My dad’s eyes were wet by the time she finished her speech.
I thought, shouldn’t I go up and say a few words? But just one thought was chewing my head off that time.
How on earth does anyone stay with one company for 36 years?
Even my mother, for that matter, has been with Accountant General’s office for around 30 years.
It’s just hard for me to digest. I’ve been at my institution for just one year and three months and I’m already thinking of quitting. Well, if not seriously, it’s just there somewhere at the back of my head that soon I’ll get bored of this and must find something more intriguing to do. My dad was also up on stage yesterday. “Don’t bother whether you’re given promotion or not,” he said to the younger employees. “What matters most is job satisfaction and I thank BHEL for having given me that all these years,” he concluded, and the audience applauded with rapture.
I think I have the most dedicated and loyal parents. And it’s not just when it comes to work. They are loyal to their friends (they’ve had the same best friends since school and beginning of work), committed to each other with all their lives and love their children to bits, and all this in a very non-intrusive, held-back way. I find it so hard to find that balance between being dedicated to something with all your heart and being unhealthily obsessed with it. And my parents have effortlessly achieved that balance. Clearly, I have a lot to learn from them.
I’m guessing the not-overly-obsessed bit is what’s going to help my dad, now that he has no more factory work. I’ve known him to leave home at 8, come in between at 12, go back and come again at 4:30, pick up my mom and come back at 6, and go to the garage and come home at 9, ever since I was born, literally! His entire life for the past 36 years has revolved around factory work. It’s going to be hard for me, him and everyone around us to get used to the fact that the BHEL phase is over. At least for a month, I’m sure I’m going to wake up at 9 thinking appa has already left to work. Funnily, it seems like it’s not just my father who has retired, but all of us, who have bid goodbye to a habitual lifestyle that had an impact on all daily lives until now.
I can’t tell you how proud Sunayana, amma and I are of you appa. We love showing off to everyone that YOU are the first man in our lives. We are lucky to have you with us, when everyone wishes they can have you in their lives forever. I don’t know what we did to deserve you, but we did something right!
Hope you don’t ever change appa.
Love you to bits.
Happy retired life.