Fortune did smile on me after about seventeen months of hard struggle and sleepless and foodless nights. There were days when I was not sure of the dinner while I struggled to swallow a stale piece of bread in the morning to survive. I couldn’t run away from life, however miserable she is! There were some refugee camps run by non-governmental organisations but that did not attract me much because the conditions in these camps were horrifying and the impact of the infectious diseases was always destroying lives.
I struggled to get a job in some private companies through interviews and I did manage to get a job in a renowned company as a sales officer. But at the same time, my hours of hard work under the platform lights at the Sealdah Station paid off and I cracked the Civil Services Examinations. I had taken the examination about three months ago and the results finally crowned me with success.
But destiny plays strange games. I did not have the Pass certificate for my degree examination (it was yet to arrive by post) even though I was the college topper at Jeshore College at East Pakistan. So, my candidature was disqualified and I lost my chance of being an IAS officer.
But I did manage to work as a teacher in a government school for some time and I showed enough perseverance, the only useful thing I had developed during the crisis of the communal riots, to take the Civil Services examination once again and I did qualify again, though not at the level which I had achieved on the earlier occasion.
My parents and brothers and sisters had already reached India and they settled down in a rented house at a sub divisional town in Bengal. My new life had begun with a two-year training in Dehradun and I was drawing a salary which was decent enough to support my family back home. My feelings at this point cannot be described in words. But it was something like a deep sense of satisfaction coupled with the melancholy of losing my motherland, my native place, my childhood friends.
And this was because suddenly one fine day I was told that this is not your country, not your home! I remember a TS Eliot poem which says that ‘A man’s destination is his own village, his own fire and his wife’s cooking; to sit in front of his door at sunset…’. But the sun of hope for my going back to my native village has set forever.
It is easy for political forces to create borders of hatred but the human heart does not respect these borders. As an old man today, I live in a decent flat which has been my saving after more than thirty years of service. But my struggle towards the achievement of my goal is hardly an example to my children and grandchildren who live in a Wi-Fi world of instant food, instant money, and instant success. Perhaps a bit of struggle is necessary to appreciate the beautiful gift of life.