I was out in the patio to tie up the laces of my shoes as usual before going for work at around 8 am. The Bus Stand opposite to our house was as usual vibrant with hustle and bustle. The typical scene I am seeing since childhood days.
Our town is a district Head Quarters and lot of people from far and near throng this place during office hours for various types of official jobs. Local youths utilize this opportunity to make some brisk business by selling tea and pakodas etc. at the Bus Stand.
Nothing was unusual until I could find one teen aged boy who alight the bus and was looking aimlessly all around. Very soon one elderly person with a metallic suitcase also followed him and grabbed his wrist firmly. From their demeanour I could guess that they were in this town for the first time and they are from a distant village. The boy looked rustic with bright eyes and the elderly person looked industrial, assiduous and ill fed too. Finally somehow they noticed me and they were heading towards me while I was approaching garage to take out my car. Some nasty and ill thought cropped up in my mind like they must be asking for food or money etc. While I was pondering over the various thoughts they came closer to me. I initiated the talk and asked them what they were looking for. They asked the direction of an Intermediate College which was little far away from that place. They asked me how to go there and if they hire rickshaw, how much they may charge. They also asked if they walk down, how long it may take. I don’t know how I grew some sympathy for them and I offered them to get into my car so that I can drop them there. Slight detour en route to my office would serve the purpose. Even though they felt uncomfortable and reluctant initially, I could persuade them with cogency. It was hot summer day, hence leaving a budding student with his poor father I considered to be a criminal offence. I dropped them off in front of the corporate school, very famous in our town.
What I could gather from the discussion with them while I was driving that the student was picked up the college as he was a very bright and diligent student. His father was a farmer and there were no crop for so many seasons due to scanty rain. They find it difficult to meet both ends meet. At times they don’t get square meal for so many days. The money preserved getting exhausted day by day. Overall a very pathetic situation but his obdurate father is hell-bent to impart good education to his son and get him admitted in any IITs or NITs. I was overwhelmed in listening to their plan and mission. I wished them and zipped off.
I could not concentrate on my work in the office. How the poor man can continue the education there? How he can provide the expense for food? If he is not successful what will the fate of the student and his parents. All these things were honking at the back of my mind. I did not want to ask such questions to them thinking that they may take umbrage on me. At the same time it was worthwhile to mention various nitty-gritty of the future prospects to the father, I rued. After all they were from a village which never saw electricity and good hospital or other so called modern amenities.
I narrated the whole story to my wife after coming back home in the evening. She was also of the same opinion. Rather she was asking me to visit the institute time and gain to enquire about the student Sasank. We felt that it may not be possible and affordable for the poor father to visit the institute frequently. We were also prepared to spend some money if required for the student.
Some days passed by we forgot to visit the place due to heavy pressure at office. I felt 24 hours per day was too short. Somehow I could find sometime after two months to visit that Institute.
I entered directly to the office of Principal. I enquired about Sasank. To my utter dismay I was told that he was hospitalized due to severe illness. I immediately asked whether they informed their parents or not. He told they dropped one letter and there were no other means of communication. I suddenly remembered that Telegram services have been stopped for ever. Since his father was economically weak he was sent to Government hospital. I rushed to the hospital. I was told by the duty doctor that he was suffering from acute mal nutrition amidst excessive stressed condition. That institute demand 12 to 14 hours of study every day and there is no scope for any extracurricular activities and not even sports and games.
I talked to Sasank. He has become still thinner. He could talk at very low voice and what I could understand that it would take months to recover. I offered some money to the hospital authority to take care of him and give some special food. They told they could not help, else he may be admitted as private patient in that hospital to have customized treatment. I, with my limited resources gave a nod. He was shifted to private room immediately and improved treatment started. I narrated the incident to my office colleagues and they also offered to help. Being head of the office I enjoyed the privilege of directing my sub-ordinate to take care of him and asked them to make schedule of regular visit for an hour or so, on rotation basis. They happily agreed. I wondered there are so many kind heated people are available in this world. They took much better care than me. Our prime aim was to revive Sasank quickly even though he would lose at least half year of study.
Days passed. We all were submerged in a pool of files. Suddenly I received a notice that I got promotion and I have to relocate to Delhi. Our offices also had to be shifted to a far off place due to requirement of large work place. So losing tract of Sasank was looming large on us but we had no other option. Just before our departure we visited him and got little satisfied that we could do something for him. We wished him all the best and promised him to visit on next opportunity. We prayed god that let this innocent student get success in his future endeavour.
At the end of the day I was contemplating why all are rushing like a mad for a seat in IITs and NITs. Many are having idea that once gets admitted the job is ensured. This is not the case. So many students fail to pass in time. There placement scene is not that rosy. Placement will be hovering around 70 to 80%. We are all chasing a mirage! Just think of their parents. They are ready to cough up any amount for their children but future is uncertain. There are so many options available, nobody dares to explore. Doesn’t anyone feel that to a parent having a healthy, normal child is more important than to have a depressed, diverted and mentally sick child? We all feel that our children are best and they can bring moon to earth. Now decision is ours- to give a slice of heart to our child or asking our child to bring a slice of moon to earth!
I promise to visit Sasank again. Till then let us wait with our finger crossed. I will bring out that in my next episode.