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Not a single card this year yaar!

The  greeting card in eye-catching patterns and colours, since 1970s till about mid 2000s, used to hold monopoly  of exchanging pleasantries on the occasion of advent of a new year. Thereafter vogue of sms on mobile phones and currently posting on facebook account, such greetings, has almost completely banished the custom of exchange of new year greeting cards .As ,earlier the number of cards received, and then number of messages received on phone, presently the number of posts on facebook, has become the hallmark of popularity of any individual.

In any office, on the 1st day of any new year, the hordes of employees would be seen entering the rooms of the seniors, with bouquets and cards in hands, to wish new year. It appeared that the air of sycophancy has completely overtaken the offices on this day. There used to be a very popular officer, who would receive more than thousand cards of greeting on new year and he would ensure that he reciprocated each and every greeting by posting back the replies, with the postage stamps, meant for the official purposes only, signifying the adage, ”Maal Malkan da, mash-huri kampany di” (Get popularity at public expense).

In the twilight of his career, he was posted as financial commissioner revenue, the post on which, many years back, any officer, senior to a chief secretary would be posted. Since he was inherently a good person, he would go an extra mile to help any subordinate. Although, for many years, this post was considered to be a secretariat job, and the incumbents avoided frequent touring, this nice officer, would regularly visit the districts and tehsils each month. Normally, any financial commissioner revenue would not go out for doing inspection of any tehsil or deputy commissioner’s office, but this gentleman chalked out a roster of such inspections, where he would also set apart sometime to hear grievances of the employees .After the tours ,he would feel highly elated, as the employees would profusely laud him for his unique way of helping and guiding the employees at the grassroots. They would say, ”Janab, tuhade tton pehlan ajj takk saadian mushklan kise ne nahin sunian” (nobody listened to our grievances before you, janab!”

It was in the first week of January, many years back, when i went to see this noble officer, who had retired about two months back then. After normal pleasantries, the officer said, ”I am very happy that you have come to see me, otherwise normally people would not go to a retired officer. ”These words surprised me a bit as I knew his popularity and his vast social circle. I said, ”Sir, you have been generous to help one and all, everyone respects you and would do anything at your beckoning. ”I intended to say more, but he cut me short by saying, ”Nahi ji, istran nahin hunda (no, it does not happen like that).He continued, ”After retirement ,the people change overnight, I used to get more than thousand new year greeting cards, but do you know how many cards I have received only 2 months after my retirement ? ”He paused briefly to look at me, ”Not a single card sardar sahib, not a single!”

Surinderjit Singh Sandhu, Amritsar

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