Yet, nothing had changed for him. He remained the worker that he was, the day he joined the factory, and today he was about to retire as one. Things don’t remain constant; not even for good old Chinnappa. He knew this day was in the making. He had prepared himself for this one. Yet he was caught unawares, so very much like a child on its first day to school – not knowing what to do.
Everyone he knew, knew of his last day at work and they made sure his farewell was well taken care of. They had even prepared a small dais for the oldest man in their midst to come and address his colleagues. Poor Chinnappa! He had no place in a dais. He was unfamiliar to all this. When all were expecting him to rant about his life and friends, all he could muster up was a barely audible thanks. Needless to say, his friends were a bit disappointed that their all their big arrangements were of no use in the end.
By evening, when all his friends had left, Chinnappa looked around him and smelt the insides of his work place one last time; brushed his fingers against his instruments just once more; and thought about the laughs he had with so many people gone by. Perhaps for the first time in those happy forty years, he wept – inside, outside and all over. Never had he felt so lonely before; perhaps only once when his wife had bid adieu to him. An emotion which we all come to feel when we know we are about to leave behind something we are physically attached to; an emotion which is needed by the body to know that it can still emote.
It must have been hours before he took leave of the place and bid goodnight to the watchman, turned around one more time at the gates, before that one last tear trickled down his wrinkled cheeks.
He started pushing his cycle forward, with his lunch box still clattering at the handle bar. He wasn’t about to ride his bike today. He wanted to think over all those lost moments in his life; to smile back at those good memories. He knew he needed a walk – walk the distance back home.