Childhood memories are sweet and, like many say, there’s really nothing to beat schooldays and the friends you make in school. Probably when you are close to the half-century mark (in life) you tend to get a little nostalgic and yearn for the days of old. My first memories of school are of holding my dad’s hand and walking to Don Bosco and St Xavier’s in Calcutta, to sit for a written test to enter Class 1. All that I remember is that I was nervous, probably flunked in both tests, but thanks to providence, managed to enter the portals of DBPC as Don Bosco Park Circus is better known.
Tomorrow is my dad’s 28th death anniversary and if he is looking from up above as I’m sure he is, I wonder what he must be thinking. He must have had dreams for me, what they were he really didn’t say but, being a father myself, I know what it can mean. The day he died, I was unemployed, having chucked up what in retrospect was the mother of all jobs – with Brooke Bond in the tea estates in the Nilgiris. Why I did that, I just don’t know, just like many of the things we all do without ever knowing.
But I’m sure dad must have been happy about my days in school. Except for that one day, when he had to met the vice principal early morning to listen in to what his son had done in the classroom, I had given him nothing to despair. Perhaps, he must have been proud of me; after all, his son was a class topper all through school, save a few terms in Classes 9 and 10 (Maths and Science). His son was also someone teachers trusted and students relied on; he was class monitor from Class 3 to 12, a favourite of many teachers, especially (and I miss her so much) Miss Goveas, and of course Mrs Preeti Choudhury, Mrs Wesley, Mrs Menon, Mr Gabriel Das and Mr Kapadia. What must surely have delighted him was the fact that his son really did not have to sit for an entrance examination to get into college in St Xavier’s; he had scored enough marks to gain automatic entry. No, not 99%; only 77% or so, but that of course measured up to quite a lot those days.
The best that parents can do is to ensure that their children get a fairly decent education. Because without that you do not have a strong foundation. Today, when I look back on my career (despite the fact that I botched it quite a few times) I think of my dad and all the struggles he went through. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth (no way), yet had the fortune of a moneyed friend picking me up almost every day on the way to college, in an Ambassador. And to think that my father took the trams to work and back, almost till the day he retired, brings tears to my eyes. He was a true hero. And sometimes I wonder whether I’ve really done him proud.