This is an open letter. No, I don’t mean a letter with complaints addressed to the government and to be read by the public. This is an open letter to my dear uncle – my mother’s elder brother (and only sibling) Ashok; known affectionately as “Ashok Mama” – for his 60th birthday tomorrow. Without much ado, let me begin:
Firstly, wish you a very Happy Birthday in Advance! And yes this will be a very very special one; since it is your 60th birthday! I think you may feel relieved as well as a bit sad and sentimental at the same time. Relieved, because you have been working very hard for a very very long time and finally you are getting rest; a lifetime of it. Sad, because retirement can be really boring after the initial few years. And finally sentimental, because you will miss the moments you shared with your colleagues over the years; even if the job was extremely taxing. I hope the company, being a major PSU; gives you a grand farewell. It would be extremely deserving for such an honest, loyal and hardworking officer as yourself.
Of course, I should be seeing you soon in September; but I really miss you here in Mumbai. The long stays in Chennai, recently as well as in 2020; were made sweeter by spending time with you; including sleeping in the same room. We discussed a lot of things: food, cricket, politics, Agatha Christie murder mysteries, crime-related movies, your office experiences, train journeys and encounters with snakes; and what not! I appreciate that you are a big fan of 50-over cricket; it is a format that is on the decline. However, as you say, it is a format that demands a lot of skill and stamina and at the same time doesn’t become a drag to the extent that Test cricket does. We had great fun dissecting the rise and fall of West Indies cricket, the domination of Australia over the late 90s and most of the 2000s; as well as the inconsistent brilliance of Indian cricket. The discussions about the World Cups (the 50-overs WCs as well as the T20 WCs) were something else entirely and kept us awake well into the night!
As far as politics was concerned; we had a good time bashing both the Congress and the BJP as well as discussing election tactics, the farmers’ issue, COVID19-related politics etc. Of course, over the last few months I have grown tired of Indian politics and hence these discussions have become far and few. Concerning food, you are very choosy about the food you consume; of course, partly because of your taste buds and partly because of health reasons. However, that doesn’t stop you from eating out often and we had a great family dinner at Akshayam just a week before I returned to Mumbai. You are also a great fan of pista whether it be plain pista, pista milkshake or pista icecream! Like you said, plain pista is not an item served at most functions unlike say badam or cashew. You have a sweet tooth just like I do – of course that is not necessarily good; I will come to that later.
Coming to Agatha Christie, it is incredible how you many little details you remember in the books; especially the clues that lead us to the murderer and particularly in the books “The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd” as well as “And Then There Were None”. I am really glad that you read “The Murder On The Orient Express’ and enjoyed it; considering that you had, by mistake, found the solution to the murder (before reading the book) in one of the carelessly written reviews. And yes you are a lover of crime cinema as well; particularly murder mysteries and impersonation for wealth. I’ll definitely watch the 1967 Tamil movie “Naan” someday – based on your recommendation. I am also happy that you watched “Netrikann” with us at Thoraipakkam; Nayanthara’s acting was brilliant, as was that of the villain Ajmal Ameer.
Regarding your office experiences, I am sorry to say that you have overworked a lot at the cost of your own health and happiness. Anyway, this will finally be coming to an end tomorrow. But I found it hilarious that you once managed to confuse one of your superiors with your extremely complicated calculations! I can still hear him saying “What is Ashok saying?” To change the topic, I am thrilled that you also appreciate train journeys; though you are far from being a rail enthusiast. We must have a train journey together some time; the COVID situation has eased somewhat and you also will have a lot of free time now that you’re about to retire. Finally, snakes! Off late I’ve been extremely fascinated by these reptiles ever since I had a weird dream involving them about 2.5 years ago. You must be really blessed to be able to sleep peacefully with a serpent slithering somewhere nearby and scaring others away! Never mind that the snake in question ultimately turned out to be non-venomous!
Anyway, let me put an end to my nonstop rambling. Tomorrow is all about you. Hope you have a blast! Please take good care of your health; as you are becoming a senior citizen, this should become your primary concern from now on. As I said earlier, having a sweet tooth is not necessarily a good thing; particularly with your extremely high sugar levels. You need to do something about it; don’t feel shy to ask help ; we will always be there for you. Go for walks almost everyday; at the same time, don’t exert yourself more than what is strictly required. And yes, never mix astrology with health even by mistake. Finally, do visit Mumbai soon and stay with us for some time!
Many Happy Returns Of The Day Again!