After the heavy dholl-poori-chicken-curry dinner of yesterday I could hardly get up this morning. And the idea of a jammed road on the first school day after the Easter vacations made me even lazier. Is it also hectic for you on Monday morning? I lied until the thought of a farewell party at the office turned me on. How could I miss my good friend’s send off?
It was Nizjad’s last day at the service of the state. He’ll be on leave until he attains retirement age in September. He’s got to exhaust all his leave. We met in the club room as from 2.30 pm. All the staff was there to bid him farewell. It’s always sad to have to part with those you’ve worked with for more than a quarter of a century.
I remember, in 1979, I was posted in Rodrigues islands, some 600 km to the east of Mauritius for a brief tour of service. Nizjad was there as officer-in-charge. He was my senior. But we did our work without the least discrimination of rank. He was very humble, he still is. We spent a cyclone episode together. I still can’t forget the hard time we had lighting a hurricane lamp; we had never used one before. I was worried being away from my parents in such a bad weather. He patted my shoulder in encouragement and said: “Don’t let yourself down my dear, whatever’s going to happen will happen; we can’t go against God’s will; just keep your head on your shoulders.” I nodded in assent; and he added: “We shall overcome, together we shall overcome.”
Nizjad’s very philosophic and highly religious; he never misses his prayers, five times a day. He’s also an avid reader. I bought a book recently “La face cachée du 11 Septembre” by Eric Laurent. Quite interesting; it delves into the so-called untold stories about the US twin tower tragedy. I hadn’t finished reading it than Nizjad borrowed it. I couldn’t let him wait. He devoured it in no time and returned it back. I’ve yet to take it up again.
So today it was time for farewell. The Chief of staff welcomed Nizjad and his family, after which the Deputy Director praised Nizjad’s journey within the department since the time he joined the service. Then Nizjad was invited to speak. Words could harldy come out, jerky at the beginning, and they flowed smoothly as he continued his short discourse. He’s had an enriching career, he said; and he’s had good moments as well as bad ones. He’d deleted all the bad memories and archived the good ones, the only bit that he’ll bring along with him on his retirement, he reassured. Tears nearly rolled off his eyes as he uttered his last words in a gesture of advice to all his fellow colleagues: “Always do the best, God will do the rest.” A standing ovation followed, and two new recruits (lady staff, to keep up with tradition) were invited to hand him a souvenir gift, and a bouquet to his madam.
It was now time for tea (not peppermint tea, Beccy – we have vanilla flavored tea and we take it with some milk – I had two cups) and snacks, Indian snacks: “samoossas” (cakes made of flour strips rolled with spicy stuff, potatoes or chicken or beef or whatever, even cheese and deep fried) and local “gateaux piments” (cakes made of crushed dholl mixed with chilies, onions, shallot and fried). Ummmh…delicious crispy snacks!
I’d have missed these moments had I let my laziness take over this morning.
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].