Officer remembered

August 15 is the day we remember our freedom fighters. I, however, remembered Air Commodore Majumdar who was no freedom fighter, but a patriot to the core. He was the first helicopter pilot of the Indian Air Force. He was also my boss, friend and hero. I admired his courage, his pride to be in the services, and more than anything else, his razor sharp sense of duty — no matter what the cost.

Like the time when he was ordered to fly the defence minister and his entourage to a place near Delhi. On their return journey, the minister wanted an extra passenger to be loaded. Majumdar flatly refused saying the “payload” of the helicopter did not permit it.

The angry minister walked up to the pilot, pulled out a pen from his coat pocket and asked with typical arrogance and sarcasm. “Do you see this pen? It is half filled with ink. If I fill it up completely will you refuse to take me?”

Unperturbed, the young pilot replied, “Yes, sir. I am sorry to say I will have to refuse.” While the speechless minister turned away in anger, the unperturbed pilot calmly got into the cockpit and continued the flight.

Years later, Majumdar and I became colleagues again in a private firm. Our new boss believed in efficiency more than human relations. When one of the employees retired, he asked Majumdar to send him a pay check with relieving orders. “Is that all?” asked my friend. “That is all,” the boss replied.

The ex-Air Commodore looked at him for a minute, and then said: “That is no way to say farewell to an employee who retires after many years of loyal service to the company.”

He went on to elaborate. “I would invite him and his wife for a get-together with all our colleagues. We will send our office car to collect them and receive them at the gate, escort them to the board room, where you will garland him, present him with a souvenir and the cheque. We will also give his wife a bouquet of flowers.

“As the CEO of this office, you will say a few words of appreciation for his service. Others may also recall some pleasant memories of working with him. We will then escort them to the car and formally bid farewell.” This time again, the boss was speechless.

A smiling Majumdar added, “A person who has built up an organisation deserves respect and a fond farewell.” The party was arranged exactly the way it was suggested.

That was Air Commodore Majumdar — a service officer who believed in doing the right thing at all times even if it meant correcting his official superiors. I am sure there were many like me who remembered him on August 15.

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