Time really flies, Mr Abhijit Roy thought while packing his belongings one by one from his big cabin. It was his last day in office. After serving his company for more than 35 years, his retirement day has finally arrived. He remembered the day he joined the company as a senior officer and today he was retiring as the vice-president of the company. Like his position, his appearance has also changed a lot over the years. Back then, he was quite a handsome man; around 5 feet 9 inches tall, slim with sharp features. As he was a hardworking man with a soft-spoken nature, he was loved by all and as he was an eligible bachelor at that time, many young ladies in his office also had a crush on him. But now, he is a 60-year-old man with a loving family consisting of his wife and two grown-up children. He has now put on quite a lot of weight. His wife is not totally wrong when she pulls his leg by saying, when we got married you were rectangle in shape but now you have transformed into a square-shaped person, with all your sides being equal.
Mr. Roy hurried with his packing as his colleagues had organized an unofficial get-together cum farewell party for him in the evening where everybody was invited with their families. As he was packing the last memories of his office-days i.e. his awards, certificates, pictures etc. into the packing boxes, a lot of emotions were going on inside him. He was finding it really difficult to handle the contrasting emotions. On one hand, he was happy as after so many years he would be able to give time to his family, but thought do they really need his time anymore, as all these years he had been so busy with his job that he could not give his family the time they deserved. He thought, will he be welcomed once again to be an integral part of his family or would he be a stranger among his near and dear ones; He wondered, will they understand he had always wanted to be with them but could not manage to be with them due to his official commitments; Along with these thoughts there was one more thought that was troubling him and that was the thought of not coming to office anymore. He had been a workaholic person all these years. Had loved his job and have put in heart and soul into it and from the very next day everything was about to change. As he was an introvert, he was unable to share his feelings with anyone. He was literally dragging himself out of his cabin. As the office peon took out all his belongings from the cabin, Mr Roy looked at his cabin one last time before leaving, as a drop of tear ran down his cheek. But he was quick enough to wipe it off before anybody else could notice. He decided to leave quickly as the more delay he was doing, it was becoming more and more difficult for him to detach himself from the memories of his office life. As little paperwork was left to be done, Mr Roy informed his family to reach the party venue in the evening and he would join them there directly.
As decided, Mr Roy’s family reached the venue and Mr Roy joined them at the main entrance of the hotel. It was a lavish 5-star hotel where the banquet hall was booked for the evening. It was a spacious hall, very nicely decorated especially for the occasion. All his colleagues were already present there with their families before Mr Roy and his family entered. And as they entered the hall, everybody stood up and welcomed them with a huge round of applause. Mrs Aditi Roy, his wife was tall and slim wore rimless glasses and flaunted a dimpled smile. She wore a lovely sari. With minimum makeup and light lipstick, she looked gorgeous for her age. With her was their first-born daughter Rumpa, around 30 years of age, a smart and confident young lady; a qualified interior designer, married and a mother of a three-year-old son. Rishi, their son was a handsome young man around 26 years of age and 6ft tall. He was the spitting image of Mr Abhijit Roy in his twenties. He was an engineer and had joined an MNC recently. Mr Roy was introducing his family to everybody present there. As he turned back to introduce Rishi, he was not there. And there he was at the food counter going through the dishes displayed in the buffet. Rumpa rushed towards him and whispered into his ears, ‘Rishi, this is not your birthday party, we have come here for Dad’s farewell, all eyes are on us, behave yourself.’ Rishi replied casually, ‘Chill Di, enjoy! These gulab jamuns are awesome; would you like to try some?’ Rumpa was irritated but faking a smile hurriedly occupied the seat beside Mrs And Mr Roy.
The event began and it was more like a family get together. Dance, music, recitation by Mr Roy’s colleagues and their family members made the evening really special. They had also organized a couple dance event. Everybody insisted Mr and Mrs Roy take the centre-stage but both being introverts kindly refused until Rumpa said, `Stop being a spoilsport, come on mom and dad!’ As both of them stood to dance everyone cheered including Rishi. It had been years since they last danced together. It felt special. Both recalled the day before Rumpa was born when they had won the Best Couple Award at a New Year party. After that, with passing time Mrs Aditi became a mother of two and Mr Roy became busy with his job. Somewhere the spark was lost due to their individual responsibilities. It was an emotional moment for both of them to be together like that after so many years. The wonderful evening was gradually coming to an end. Now it was time to say the final farewell speeches. As Mr Roy was a lovable person, everybody had a word or two to say in praise of him. After the speeches were over Mr Roy was getting up from his seat to thank everyone for the lovely evening, when Rumpa stopped him and said, `It’s not over yet Dad, I have something to say'. She went up to the stage and started, 'Hello everyone, today I am going to take a little bit of your time, hope you don’t mind'. Everybody cheered, 'please carry on Rumpa mam.’ Rumpa began by saying, `Dad, we love you and are really proud of you but today I have something special for you. Mom has written a letter for you and she wants me to read it here for you.' Mr Roy was pleasantly surprised as the last handwritten letter they both wrote to each other was more than 30 years back.
There was pin-drop silence in the hall when Rumpa started, `It has been years since I last wrote to you, Abhi, so addressing you dear or dearest seemed too formal so I started straight away. I just want to let you know I can very well understand what you are going through, the fears, anxieties, doubts which you have in your mind. I understand. Don’t worry, you are not alone I am with you always. You know Abhi, I have always loved your dedication towards your work but it was also the only thing I hated about you. As all these years you were so much into your work that you did not get much time to spend with us. Even before you knew my black hair turned grey and my flawless skin had given way to wrinkles, my big eyes had hidden behind glasses. Now you have ample time to praise my grey hairs and wrinkled skin Mr Roy!’ Everybody in the hall burst out laughing, only Mr Roy was sitting there feeling awkward.
After a little pause, Rumpa continued, ‘Do you know, I have jotted down all the promises you had made all these years, saying you will take me for outings three times a year, once you retire. When are we going? Shall I start packing? And for each time you left the wet towel on the bed or sofa, you have to prepare morning tea for me. The number adds up to around 2735 times only. Yes, I have jotted down that too.’ Everybody in the hall was laughing, and by now, Mr Roy had also started to smile. He started thinking, ‘Diti, as he called her, has not changed a bit; it seems only her body has aged. Her heart still remains the same as it was 32 years back when he first met her. As he was an introvert, he was attracted towards Aditi’s talkative and jolly nature. How come? He thought he had forgotten to enjoy these small little things for which he was once attracted towards Diti. Mr Roy was brought back to the present as Rumpa continued, ‘Do you remember Mr Roy, how much I loved to use Korean cosmetics, but suddenly I stopped it one day, but you never asked me why. Today I will answer that unasked question; because you had stopped complimenting me on my looks, you stopped noticing the glow on my face, so I just left it.' Mr Roy was able to understand how unknowingly he had hurt her feelings. Rumpa continued, By the way, I have a surprise for you, Rumpa lifted her eyes from the letter and commented, `No cakes please mom! As more than surprise, it becomes a shock for all of us. Sorry to say, your baking skills are awful Mom’. Rumpa continued reading as she was sure a one-liner was coming up from her mom. She read 'I know how three of you would react but don’t worry, I have not baked a cake this time, I have tried my hands on caramel custard and am pretty sure you all will love it.’ 'Oh no! Mom' Rumpa remarked and everybody burst out laughing. By now even Mr Roy could not control his laughter. Rumpa read, 'Mr Roy for all those times when I had my dinner alone because you had to go out for dinner with your colleagues I missed you. Times when our kids shared jokes and funny experiences of their lives with me and three of us had a good laugh, somewhere in my heart I always felt that moment could have been much funnier if you were there with us. At times when I was depressed and wished you were by my side but you could be present due to your official commitments, I just want to say I missed you and really missed you a lot. My wait has been too long Mr Roy, please come back home to me. Let’s make a fresh beginning.
The letter was over but the varied emotions it had were there to stay forever in the minds of Mr Roy as well as the audience present. Both Rumpa and Rishi gave a tight hug to their Mom. As grown-ups they could now understand what their mom had gone through all these years, could feel the underlying loneliness which she had always hidden under her smile and sense of humour. Everybody stood up and started clapping and requested Mr Roy to say a few words.
Mr Roy took the centre stage and started. `I am not a very expressive person still I would like to say a few things today. Before anything else, I would like to say, Diti, you know I have always regarded you as my best friend. I may not have told you often but it is because of you that I could do full justice to my job. You singlehandedly looked after our kids, our home and even me. You were always there when I needed you but unfortunately, I was unable to be by your side when you needed me the most. I can’t compensate for all the years we have already missed, but definitely can start afresh. Feel lucky to have a friend and partner like you. Thank you is too small a word for what you have done all these years.' Mrs Aditi could not control her tears but was happy for finding her love once again at this age when she needs it the most.
Mr Roy continued, 'before ending my speech I would like to give a piece of advice to all young men out there, it is really good to be dedicated towards your work, there is nothing wrong in being ambitious. But in the attempt to make a successful career we somehow take our family for granted. We forget to give them the time and support they truly deserve. Ultimately, our success is of no use if our family is not by our side or is unhappy. So don’t repeat the mistake which I have made. And finally, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for organizing this lovely evening. It has given me memories which I will cherish for the rest of my life.'
Claps thundered through the hall as Mr Roy and his family bid goodbye to all and proceeded towards their car. He had a satisfying smile on his face as he felt he was returning home to his family after a long time.