There are few occasions when you as a young person get to experience something way beyond your years. Well, Wednesday was such a day. My office sent off a peon, Sanjay, who was working here since the last 14 years. He was 54 years old, and chose to retire due to his illness. Along with the entire office staff were present the current Director and the first Director of my firm. The first Director was the one responsible to get him to work here.
The peon was on leave since the last three months and I saw him today for the first time. He is a short man, with protruding eyes and only very little hair left on his head. He was walking with a limp (the illness that forced him to retire early, as he later described, was in his arm and extended to his back). He was barely able to express what he wanted to say.
The gathering started by our Director describing how it was on the peon’s joining day and how he shockingly looks the same even today. The first Director, who is 80 years old and still, works with the organization for three and a half hours a day, described how he found him and decided to hire him, and at the end of his description, he delightfully said that he will miss the tea that Sanjay would make. He then realized that the other two peons were in the room and swiftly gave them a consolation for their respective tea making efforts too!
The best words were however spoken by an employee of the office, Pravin. Pravin gels very well with everyone in the office. I have seen him have his lunch with the peons once, a sight you do not usually get to see. Pravin was Sanjay’s confidant for his decade and a half at office. Pravin rightly praised Sanjay for how he balanced home and office. Sanjay is a father to a son and a daughter as I later came to know. As a peon, Sanjay would obviously not make much. Pravin pointed out how he managed to educate his son to become an MCA, married his daughter off and built a new home at his native place, managing all of this with whatever little amount he made.
Pravin’s remarks do sound orthodox, but that is clearly the state of a ‘common man’. A man like Sanjay, cannot think beyond marrying off his daughter to a nice family, getting his son educated and building a home at his native place. When asked if he would want to join back if he gets well, Sanjay mentioned that his son has taken responsibility of the house, and he was the one who went to the first Director and requested him to relieve his father of his services. The first Director went on to praise Sanjay’s son, describing him as straightforward. Sanjay’s son, who has taken responsibility of the house so early on in his life, might sure have to compromise on many of his dreams.
This day gave me many things to learn. I am fortunate to have been born in a financially well-placed home, where I can still not be earning at the age of 23 and even after I start earning, I immediately do not have to take up responsibility of the house. I can follow my dreams and goals. I can extend my luxuries comfortably. These are things we sometimes really take for granted. We fail to be grateful for these basic things in life. And be really thankful that we are sons and daughters of fathers who were not peons. Life for them must surely be difficult. They are happy with a lot less than what we have and still are not happy with. We strive for more, any human would. But hats off to Sanjay and his son, who strived for all these years to come out from their clearly miserable states. To get your child to become a post-graduate in these conditions is respectable.
That day taught me that even when you are at comfortable stage, it is important that we save. We constantly look at the uncertainties that lie ahead of us rather than seeing how good our past was, and not to forget, to live in the present, because we are fortunate that we have the choice to go out on a Sunday and chill (like I will today). And while we strive for a better future in every aspect, we give to those who deserve but don’t get one.