My Aim in Life
Unlike in our earlier school, in this school the chowkidar, Ganpat Gowala, would carry the notices from one class to another which the teachers would read out to the students and after that they would sign on it. Whenever Ganpat would bring a notice, the students would invariably brighten up as the notices would cause some break in the class. We would repeatedly ask about the details of any such notice, mostly to pass more time than to actually know anything about the notices. And Sir would explain in details, perhaps that way he could also get a break from the monotony of teaching. Sometimes sirs would even digress and bring up entirely different topic and pass the rest of the time. One good thing about such notices was that they were mostly about holidays or early closure of school for the day. In our earlier school no such notice ever came to the classes. There the sirs would verbally announce or write on the black board about the holidays; and if the classes were to be cancelled suddenly, the designated student would be asked simply to beat the brass bell and we would rush out of the class being totally clueless as to why the school got over so early, nobody even bothered to know.
That day no such notice came. But Golap sir, Golapuddin Ahmed, our mathematics teacher, after the roll call, said, ‘Today is a very important day. Your school is going to get over early today.” He paused, and asked loudly, ‘You know why?’
We looked happily at him expecting the next sentence. He explained, ‘Because today the school is very proud, one of our students has become a CA. Ashok Khetawat, Manik babu’s son has become a CA, you see. All the teachers of the school have been invited by his father to visit their house.’
Sir then continued as loudly and dramatically, ‘You know, Ashok was a very bright boy. He got first division in Matric and added glory to our school. From our school he is the third CA. Earlier Surajmal babu’s son and Harekchand babu’s son also became CAs.’
He reflected a bit and said pride, ‘I think this is the only school in the whole Dhubri sub-division to have produced the highest number of CAs at such a short span of time.’ He then informed, ‘It’s one of the toughest examinations, you see; you’ve to be very clever and sharp. They’ve all got first division from our school.’
If you are a first diver in Matric, we thought, you either become a doctor or an engineer or a DC (though we did not know how one became a DC but we heard that it was the biggest post) but we never heard of something called CA. However, nobody hazarded to open their mouth to ask what a CA was and prove in public how big a blockhead one was to ask such a silly question. Diganta, who was one of the most favourite students of sir, because he would be the first one to submit the copy everyday with the sums, asked, ‘Sir, what is a CA?’
Sir turned to Manish and said with sparkling eyes, ‘Ask your friend, he knows it, for his brother, another Ashok, is also a CA.’ Sir then said loudly and dramatically, ‘Manish, tell them what a CA is.’ We turned to Manish. Manish stammered a bit and said, ‘Chaatar accounten.’
Sir went on to describe further, ‘In order to become a CA, you must study hard, especially mathematics; only then you get admission in commerce courses, you see. To become a CA you must be a B.Com.’
Sir could sense that he was saying so many new things. He then clarified, ‘Like B.A, Bachelor of Arts; B.Sc, Bachelor of Science, there is another degree called B.Com, Bachelor of Commerce. There is only one commerce college in Assam which is in Guwahati. So if you want to become a CA, a Chartered Accountant, you must study hard right from today.’
Nobody seemed too keen to become a CA and start studying hard from that day itself, besides we did not quite understand what actually a CA was.
After sir left the class, all of us gathered around Manish and asked,
- ‘What does a CA do?’
- ‘How much salary do they get? 1000?’
- ‘Where do you study CA? Guwahati?’
- ‘Where is the office of CA? Is there any CA office in Dhubri?’
To the barrage of questions Manish said that his brother did it from Calcutta; that it was a very tough examination and only a few could manage to clear that, his brother was one of them and once you were a CA you could earn a lot of money.
For quite many days there were a lot discussions on what was better- doctor, engineer, DC, Indian Army or CA. In our essay on ‘My Aim in Life’ we always used to write about only two ambitions of our life- either to become an ‘ideal teacher’ or to become an ‘ideal farmer’, and religiously mugged up the essay line by line, but when it came to actual discussions on what could be a good choice of life, nobody uttered those two options.
It’s a work of fiction. Any resemblance with any person, dead or alive, is coincidental.