Much as I would have liked to pose as an exception, my much too known past defiantly stands in the way of even soliloquizing, “I didn’t live a clichéd life.” But, you know, even in some ordinary run of the mill lifestyles there could be sparks of extraordinariness. And in my case, it happened on the first day of my earning life.
Trust me, I never wanted to be a journalist! I wasn’t remotely interested in anything to do with writing. But like millions of youngsters brought up those days with a heavy dose of a “secured life should be your life goal, and a first-class is a must” life mission, my sleeps were dogged by nightmares of failing in exams and the waking hours by being a disappointment in academics.
All parents dream of children achieving success. My parents couldn’t have been an exception. But they never told me what it was. Yet when I would write an essay without a mistake with a few nice lines thrown in, I couldn’t but notice that glint in my father’s eyes. Or, coming back home with less than ‘worthy’ grades and the consequent thrashing from my mom would tell me that she also had aspirations.
But you know, my parents were indeed different. They would seek happiness in my writing that nice sentence, reading that difficult book and holding forth on it as if it were written by me and working out that Euclidean geometry problem that even my seniors would struggle with. And if I could do all that I would naturally win grades worthy of a middle-class Bengali son.
Yes, I could do all that but not consistently. Some days I would write a few good lines and on some others, I would be an Einstein. But I could never be an Einstein and a Tagore on the same day! Unlike many other, my parents were strangely also happy with their ‘not so Einstein, not so Tagore’ son. But to be honest, they never tired of talking about achievers in the family. And believe me, they all were, bar me! And my grades also kept swinging from Einstein to Tagore, without adding up to that hallowed status of a scholar.
I was growing up. By the time I entered college, I became an intellectual – not by virtue of my scholastic prowess but by the grace of spirit. I cleared university in good time and was in the labour market as an aspirant. My family wanted me to follow my uncles and become a teacher.
As for me, I didn’t really have a clear goal. But yes. Teaching was an option because of the holidays and the possibility of enough time to spend with the spirit. But that spirit had a different idea.
So I got a job in a newspaper where you could drink during the night shift! And the blighter of a Monk decided my fate. So here I am -- a scribe with a clichéd life and without a pension. Sadly, you can’t do that anymore. Life has indeed changed. So has the cliché about a scribe’s life. And I have yet to collect my degree certificate!