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2 happy 'wives'

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Tuesday, January 09, 2018

WHEN John Pillay proposed to his wife Pooja about 20 years ago, he told her she was going to be his second wife.

Pooja, despite finding this statement weird, still agreed to his proposal and it took three years of challenges to actually find out who her husband's first "wife" was. It turned out to be his work as a firefighter with the National Fire Authority.

Last week, firefighting service farewelled John and two other colleagues at the Nadi Fire Station as they bade farewell to the place in which they had spent half their lives.

"It only takes meeting him once to remember him forever and that's who Mr Pillay is," Pooja said.

John began his work as a firefighter in 1980 when it was called Nadi Town Council Fire Brigade.

A workaholic, he valued his work and had an extreme passion for work involving fire and he was someone who believed in time management and never took any public holidays or family holidays because of his love of being a firefighter.

According to his wife, he was a guy who breathed fire and remained married to the fire department up to the very last day.

"Before I married John, he informed that I would be his second wife. I found this weird but blindly agreed to this as the guy was literally very handsome back in those days. Well, he still is and is very charismatic.

"And today I stand here a very proud wife of a person who gave 38 long years of dedicated and sincere service to the NFA.

"To be able to serve such a prestigious organisation is a testament of his devotion to work. Without a shadow of doubt, John loved his work and served NFA for more than half of his life."

For those who may have spent half of their lives in the work they've grown to love may empathise with John as the NFA was his "home".

He never chose to leave when he had many opportunities to do so and while he remained with the organisation, NFA handsomely provided for him as it was a place where he grew professionally, financially and created a name for himself in the community through networking.

Like any other individual, we all have our good and bad times.

The 38 long years with NFA were not without their challenges because his health hit rock bottom when he required five major hip replacements abroad.

His bubbly and cheerful character helped him enjoy a normal life ensuring John is today healthy as can be.

The Pillay family went through their most challenging time during this period but NFA provided for him tremendously.

"Even though his journey has ended, fire safety and awareness will always be paramount in the activities we will do after his retirement.

"NFA will always be in his heart.

"John, congratulations on reaching this special milestone and welcome home. You have just switched bosses from the ones who hired you to the one whom you married," a proud Pooja said with a smile.

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