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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Freedom at Afternoon

The question that is being asked of me by many of my well wishers, friends and admirers is how do I feel, now that I have retired. Well, to be honest serving for close to four decades in one of the most coveted services of the country has many disadvantages. You tend to forget the use of your limbs. There is someone connecting and picking up the phone for you, you are driven around, your engagements, your tour, and your other quotidian worries- from filing tax return to paying your utility bills- are someone else’s concern. In higher echelons of the government someone even thinks your thought for you. You just have to be!

After you retire all that elaborate support system, all those rites of pride and protocol disappear. It is like someone who does not how to swim is thrown in a pool without a lifebelt. Or you are left to navigate in a totally unfamiliar city. Many of us tend to show unmistakable withdrawal symptoms. Jostling for paying electricity bills, or booking a railway ticket (if you are not into net transaction) doing things as others not so spoilt do, can make you maladjusted for a while. I was warned – not that I could not see it for myself –but I had some more worries.

To add to the standard quota of uncertainties of a retiring officer, I have been trying to renovate my house to make it livable. It was empty for quite some time. It is no point trying to explain the hazards and the frustration of such an activity to someone who has not undertaken such an expedition himself. There are so many liars, thugs and swindlers in this line of business that it can easily turn you into a misanthrope. All in all, my prospect in the near future looked like a perfectly scripted plot for a black, neurotic drama! Anticlimactically, it is my date of retirement that kept me buoyed up, gave me hope and sustenance. And when it actually came it was such a relief!  All the uncertainties did stare me in the face as it does any one of us. The prospect of my house becoming livable had receded a few more weeks into the future. But hell is a relative habitation. The comfort zone that I seem to have left behind was no comfort for me given that so many knives were out for me and danger seemed to be lurking at every corner.

 So much has happened in the dying years of my service, so many distressing things-vilification, show cause, disciplinary proceeding, supersession, a complaint case and much more- that they remind me of Lenin’s famous remark about politics, “There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." It was only God’s infinite grace that I survived several attempts to frame me up in order to harm me in my career and ruin my reputation. I have never considered the denial of opportunities, postings, medals, etc as acts of disfavour because the government giveth and the government taketh away. (For the record, I was overlooked for the post of DGP on four occasions and I have retired in a lower grade of pay than officers four years my junior. I never even made a grievance of it.) But my reputation is not a matter of an executive fiat, or a government notification; it has been hard earned and paid for in hard currency of an unwavering faith in the values of probity in public life. The worst thing is that on every occasion personal malice was dressed up as considered government decision. Since an officer cannot challenge every order in a court of law, the government can play havoc with his life and career. I felt like the French philosopher who spoke during disturbingly unsettled times  in France,  If today I were to be accused of having stolen the Church of Notre Dame I would have no option but to run away from France.”

Now that I am past the hump all these precious years of my life which vaguely leaked away in worries and anxieties seem but like a transient twitch. I am in a celebratory mood reveling in my migration from the ranks of Helots – Helots were a class of people halfway between slaves and citizens in ancient Sparta-to that of an independent citizen. This freedom is worth years of the lives of any number of tongue tied, terrorized and fear stricken civil servants. Like any liberated serf I am going to exploit to the utmost my freedom to speak my mind. Earlier on my conversations with the government were subject to conduct rules, elaborate courtesy, and the unbreakable code of never mentioning facts that could bring disrepute to the government however disreputable its conduct. Never to speak truth to power except in such a term that the unpalatable truth became an error of your own judgment. (I violated that rule on several occasions and paid the price for it. So we are quits!) In fact, when I was addressing the Home guards who had lined up for inspection on the eve of  my farewell parade on the 30th of June at Bihta I kept concentrating hard so that I did not shout from the podium itself : azadi , azadi azadi.  Decades of conditioning, however, was a surer guarantee and my uniformed self behaved exactly as it was supposed to.

18 comments:

ajitabh said...

Sir, I find it very interesting to read whole writing in a single breath

ajitabh

Er. AMOD KUMAR said...

Respected Sir,
You have written very true facts of your experience . No one can challenge about your honesty , You are one of the luckiest person who has got a very Excellent reputation with hard working man in our society . I don’t want to write more about this post but I can say Great Man, Great thought !!!!!
With kind regards

Amitabh Thakur said...

very well written, sir. it was excellent reading

Anonymous said...

एक नौकरी करने के अलावा सामाजिक रूप से प्रत्यक्ष रूप से आपका क्या योगदान रहा है ? सोसल मीडिया में आपके जाती के लोगों द्वारा आपको 'शहीद' घोषित करने के प्रायोजित कार्यक्रम के अलावा आपका क्या योगदान रहा है ?? :))

Neers said...

Dear Uncle,

Lovely and inspiring piece as always!

And, this gives us hope... lots of it! Exactly when it is required.

Charan Sparsh
Neerja

Anonymous said...

Abolutely brilliant and inspiring.
I shared this article with the IFS officers at Vladivostok

soumitro65 said...

Sir,
Feelings Captured superbly.I wish you to be columnist for all time to come. Pen is mightier than sword.you are now free to express yourself to the fullest.Meantime once you are settled please visit the NE. I shall be there to take care of your travel requirements.We are part of your family. With profound regards.

J.K.Khanna IPS (Rtd) said...

Well written, Nath sahib. Retirement is indeed a 'liberation', moksha. You are not accountable to anybody but yourself. Enjoy.

- J.K.Khanna
Retd DG, Bihar

Rambler said...

Manoje, Though I was luckier than you not to face, enquiries and vilification campaign, I can well appreciate your anguish at what the Service has meted out to you. You have expressed your feelings and 'musings' very well in deed! May be, my several tenures in the Central Government, that too in departments where there was hardly any 'support system' prepared me to face the retirement better. Having several hobbies which I pursued passionately also helped.
I am now doing all those things, which lack of time and being in the strait jacket of the Indian Police Service prevented me from doing in the 36 years I was in service. I can well understand your reference to Helots. I am reminded of Matthew Arnold's poem Summer Night, where he asks
"Is there no life, but these alone?
Madman or slave, must man be one?".
Enjoy your freedom!
Koshy

Manoje Nath said...

thank you koshy koshy .oh iam enjoying my freedom, even thought i had arrogated to myself a large slice of it while still in service - too large a slice in fact for the comfort of many a people. shall catch up with you.
n

sachin said...

Well written sir, it is a reality which all of us have to face. Before comming to services we had led life of a common person (majority of us)and after retirement again that life. It is during this interim period (our service tenure)we get used to these luxuries(so called) of life.

Manoje Nath said...

@ajitabh, Amotabh Thakur
& Anonymous from Vladivostok

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Manoje Nath said...

@Neerja
Thank you, I'm glad you think so.
But it is young people like yourself that give us hope, and whom we hope to inspire.

Manoje Nath said...

@Soumitro
Thank you, Soumitro. And rest assured, now that I am out of the strait-jacket, to borrow Koshy's phrase, I do not plan to stop expressing myself anytime soon.

ajoyipsbhr85 said...

if one is not prepared for retirement during his service tenure, then either s/he has compromised on principles or has been lucky..!
freedom is something that needs to be enjoyed during active service....!!
if this was a warning about the future Katrinas that would hit the Bihar Secretariat, then am eagerly awaiting their arrival...
if this was a promise of greater Freedom of Expression... then i am excited...
but if this is final forgiveness, then i am disappointed...!
wisdom dawns on most Government Servants after retirement... but we have so many who trade post retirement expose' to perky post-retirement engagements..
it is about time to drop a few Nukes sir...

Manoje Nath said...

Well who knows it better than you and who has faced more sustained persecution than you but your spirit is indomitable . In the long run all of us retire, how well do you conduct yourself while in service is all that matters, which again I need not tell you.Thanks for visiting my blog.

aawaz said...

i completely agree with what u wrote. i always feel that people like u shd hv been treated in much much better way but as u said, u are now above of all these things...i personally liked when u qouted Lenin and the french philosopher:- “There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen."....and...“If today I were to be accused of having stolen the Church of Notre Dame I would have no option but to run away from France.”....i liked other sentences also which directly come from heart.." Earlier on my conversations with the government were subject to conduct rules, elaborate courtesy, and the unbreakable code of never mentioning facts that could bring disrepute to the government however disreputable its conduct."...certainly this kind of wit cant come without bringing your heart out. Again i wd like to say sir...awesome

Purusheshwar sahay said...

Sir ,i am speechless,do not know what to write,i used to think that i am only in govt sector pushed to corner.but i salute you sir you are made for bigger things in life.Thanks and with deep regards " P sahay"