Giving up something you have a passion for is not easy and it takes some time before you can pick up the momentum of life.
This was how 60-year-old Kemueli Dakai felt when he was farewelled at the Quarantine Office in Suva.
With Quarantine officers from Sigatoka, Lautoka, Nadi and Savusavu present for the farewell, it was a day Dakai would cherish for the rest of his life.
Dakai as he was called by those who worked with him, served for 36 years with the Ministry of Agriculture, beginning first as a casual employee before making his way up the ladder of success.
"I joined the service in 1967 under the leadership of Berenado Vunibobo who was working in Lautoka at the time," said Dakai.
"At that time I was assisting vet officers in the construction of fences at Uluisavou in Ra for the cattle farm and it was all a new experience for me and I loved every minute of it," he grinned.
After spending three years in Lautoka, he was appointed as a quarantine examiner in Nadi.
"I remember clearly my first day there where I was told to wear our uniform which was a pair of khaki shorts, khaki shirt and white long socks," he laughed.
"In Nadi I was involved in the boarding of airplanes and whilst still working there, there was an outbreak of the foot and mouth disease and as a precautionary measure we were instructed to spray chemicals on all door mats in the airport and inspect all passengers," said Dakai.
In 1975 he was appointed to the permanent establishment as a senior technical assistant and remained in Nadi until 1990 when he was promoted to agriculture technical officer.
In 2000 he was transferred to post entry quarantine in Koronivia. He attended two training workshops abroad, in 1990 in New Caledonia on fumigation and certification of imports/exports and in 1996 he attended his second course in New Zealand on quarantine attachment.
"You just have a different attitude altogether when you are at work and you know that you have been given responsibilities that you have to perform no matter what and that was the thrill of working for me," he smiled.
"I always loved the challenge and I guess I was brought up that way by my parents and all those who helped in my upbringing."
Delivering a farewell speech, director quarantine Hiagi Foraete said Dakai was going to be missed by those who worked with him and valued his friendship.
"You were an asset to the Department of Quarantine and always will be as our door will always be open to you for your ideas and advice," said an emotional Mr Foraete.
"Thank you very much for your tireless efforts and your dedication during your time with us and I am sure other officers of the department who could not make it to this special day to farewell you will always hold you in their hearts as a father and a mentor," said Mr Foraete.
Dakai addressed the staff and said he was going to miss the hard work and the laughter he had shared with them.
"It's going to take me some time to settle down to island life because I have been used to the hustle and bustle of the office but it will certainly remain a fond memory for me," Dakai said. "We faced a lot of hardships while working in Nadi but through dedication and hard work we persevered through all the hard times just to see that we delivered our services to the best of our abilities."
The Malakake villager from the beautiful Yasawa Islands says life for him now would be on the slow lane as he wants to savor every minute of it.
Dakai said he would take back all the good memories and would spend time with relatives and take more walks on the beach while watching the sun set at his village.