Story No. 4 : My Education

My Primary school days at Churamanipur, Sonamukhi

My primary schooling started in a small town by name, Sonamukhi in Bankura Dist. of West Bengal. My elder brother was in the State Establishment department thus our full family could stay in a Govt. Quarter.  A Block Development Officer (BDO) was the head of the administration there.  There were about 50 houses in our colony and we knew each other by name.  The colony was located at a stone throw distance from the Bankura-Sonamukhi  Narrow gauge Railway Line. Across this line there used to be a forest like area where mango, Palmyra, and many other fruit trees grew in abundance. During summer vacation early in the morning we would go to this forest and collect riped Palmyra that fell overnight.  It was such a delight to collect these fruits and enjoy its succulent flesh. Generally in the afternoon or evenings in summer months there would be violent storm and rain called in Bengali 'Kal Baisakhi' we would go out stealthily with a sack and collect as many mangoes we could find that fell under the tree as there would be no guards at that time. We were a group of young boys and girls who would do such adventure in a stormy weather.

My Primary school was about 2 miles away from our colony if one takes the main road.  But we always used a take a short cut through forest area and it was quite an adventure.  In rainy season the forest area would become more dense and many a new plants would  grow along our daily route.  On the way to the school we always hurried up so that we do not reach our school late.  Our head master was a nice person but the second Master who looked not only ferocious but used to punish us severely whenever we faulted. For us he was like a  'Jyamraj' , the Lord of Death.  He knew many tricks to pin us down.  There was hardly a day when no one was punished by him. I must give him credit for whatever discipline I learnt in life in my early days.
On the way back home we had no such hurry.  We used to play play, collect flowers, pluck fruits mostly wild berries, mango plants, Tulsi and sow them in our home courtyard. One day I was coming back home early from the school, again through that short cut route, there was a big reptile lying by the way side.  The moment I saw it I felt a cold shivering going down my spine.  I ran and ran till I reached our home.  I told my Mom in a very excited way what I saw on the way.  Mom again advised me to be careful and take the main road to school and to back home.  For a moment I felt she was right but how could I forget the forest path with her flowers, birds and that too shorter route!

In our school once there came a Magician.  The two magic items I still remember.  The magician took about 10 blades into his mouth and with a few seconds brought them out in a string wherein the blades were lined up.  The second one is he put into his mouth many colorful scrap papers and they come out like a garland.  I wondered like all children does he really do all these or they were just a sleight of hand. But none the less it was all real for us perhaps that is why we enjoyed it so much.

In those days we used to carry a sack bag for sitting and a slate and chalk to write with.  I made a number of friends but now I do not remember any of them.  However I could still visualize our school and a forest close by where we used to go for pay and adventure. 

I passed my final primary school examination in P division.  Only thing I remember now that English language was first introduced during our final year.  There was a passage given in question paper saying, 'write down the passage given below' and it had about 20 marks.  I just left it thinking it was already written why should I write it again? 
Thus I got my poor result.  I am such a fool! This foolishness cost me a lot in my secondary education.  I could get admission only in a private school and not in a good Government school.

My Secondary School - Krittibas Mukherjee High School

After I completed my primary education at Sonamukhi, my brother got transferred to Bishnupur, a subdivision of Bankura Dist.  In my school days I had many friends.  One was a singer, Gautam Sur and he had very good voice.  He used to entertain us in our get together.  Our first boy was Pratap Chatterjee, a smart young man with a good family background and that reflected in his physical feature and conduct. He never joined us in our childish pranks but never reported our mischievous adventures to our teachers. He was really a goody goody good boy.  The third friend was Himanshu.  I quite often used to fight with him on petty issues but that lasted one or two days and again we became friends. In our class I had a good following.  Everyone supported me whatever I did - wright or wrong.

In class five I remember I had a prodigal memory power.  In History I learnt by heart the whole history book and I scored highest marks, 65.  Another memorable marks I scored was in Physics in class Nine, it was possibly 89 and also in mathematics I got third highest.  In general I was a play loving, non-serious and friendly chap.
Just before the summer vacation would be announced, we used to decorate our class with wild flowers collected from a close by forest area to welcome our teachers and also offered them sweets.  In turn our teachers would invite us to their houses to partake sweets on the occasion of Vijaya Dasami.  This Vijaya Dasami used to be a very sought after festival for us as we students would line up for offering our 'Pranam' to our teachers and get sweets or Halwa.  Reaching out to all the class teachers in the evenings with friends and meeting many on the way was really a delightful experience will never come back in our life time.

In class VIII we had a history teacher who would come to class and ask to start reading a chapter from one corner of the first bench student and he would snore and sleep.  We all enjoyed his class as it was left to ourselves.

Like every school we had a prayer meeting everyday before our classes would start. First we would sing some patriotic songs and end it with 'Jana Gana'.  When we were in class XI, the most senior students of the school, we used to skip our prayer meeting instead we would make some caricature of the same in our class room. One day we were caught as someone reported our misadventure to the Head Master, they laid a trap. As the Jana Gana started in the assembly, we too started our caricature but that day the assembly of students stopped after a line but we continued our caricature thinking other students were busy singing the national anthem.  A teach headed by our Headmaster came to our class with sticks and we started running out of the calls.  Our class room was in the first floor and we had to face a number of teachers on the way down.  The most ferocious teacher was if I remember right 'Anathbandhu Nandi' he was manning the exit point of the staircase.  As we descended along the staircase, we were whipped one by one.  But I escaped as I had a good reputation as a very good boy but I was the person who started this caricature.  We had a student in our class who got severely beaten by Mr. Nandi.  Thus we had an excuse and went on strike.  The whole school stopped functioning and our demand was that Mr. Nandi should apologize to this boy.  Now I feel it was such an unfair demand but we got away with it and He did apologize. This was one of the blackest incidents in my life and I still repent for it.

Among the friends,  I had very good friend in Binayak Bannerjee.  He was very lean but had a lot of grit and courage. He always was in fighting mode.  His father was in the police service so never was he afraid of anyone.  In studies he was very poor but not in intelligence.  He used to hardly study but be always busy with birds and dogs.  In examinations, he would always copy from my paper but would get better marks!  The invigilators would be afraid of him and never challenged his unlawful activities.  He always stood by me whatever may be the situation thus he won me over.

Once we were playing in a hall adjacent to our school and he somehow got one of his fingers cut while showing some kind of tricks.  We all took him to the hospital and forced the doctors to attend on him immediately always his cut was not so serious.  As we were a many students we took management of the hospital under our care for a while. Once he was treated fairly we all left and no one reported this incident to any teacher.
When the results of the Higher Secondary Examination were out both of us got second division but in terms of marks he got 15 marks more than me that too copying my answer paper!  After this result both of us got admission in Ramananda College in pass course Science stream.  He continued his studies there but I left due to my brother's transfer to Bankura.  I wanted to continue my studies there but commuting everyday for college from Bankura to Bishnupur was economically burdensome.  Moreover my brothers vetoed this idea and I stopped my college studies for the next two years in protest.

I was just whiling away my time by playing carom with the Railway Police staff and watching trains and passengers coming and going in the evenings and reading Bengali novels and stories during day time.

My College - Bankura Sammilani college

After two years off from my studies, I could take admission in Sammilani college in the year 1973 with financial help from my sister in commerce stream . I never expected to get into honors course as I had only a second division with 53% marks.  Perhaps that year a few applied for honors course and fewer had second division.  Thus my chance brightened and I got into it.

Our lecturers and professors were very good and I owe to them for whatever I am today and making out a living now.  Our English teacher was very unique and his way of teaching would even attract those bad guys to join in who would otherwise hardly attend classes. His graphic description of a poem still lingers in my mind even after 39 years of his teaching.  Other teachers were just all right but nothing particular to mention about.
In the meantime, I became a Student representative in our section and got my tuition fees waived.  That was a great relief for me.  Although our B.Com final examination was over in 1976 the results came out in 1977.  I scrape through with honors with just minimum marks.

My elder brother thought that it would be wise to learn typewriting and shorthand to get a job while with only a college Degree, jobs were scarce in those days to come by.  In this Institute I came across a young man who was studying Economics in Christian College, the best one in the district. We became very close friends.  He used to keep a small flowing beard and was a very serious looking person.  He was Debiprasad Kundu, If I remember right. He used to dabble with Numerology and did make a lot of predictions on my future.  To my surprise almost everything has come true and some are yet to bear fruit.

There was one office staff  whom we used to call 'Sadhan da' He was very helpful to get administrative work done and he used to live in our colony as well.  After his office duties he would always be found at Station more road restaurant gossiping with friends over cups of tea and snacks.

Many of my friends joined Indian Air Force and I remember the names of two of them. One was Bibhash and the other one was possibly Joideep.  I do not have any contacts with them now.

I left Bankura in Nov. 1977 for Deolali in Maharashtra where my brother was posted in his job to look for a job for myself.

MY life - My story