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While this scene was unfolding, a stranger, the same one who had sought directions from Phatik, entered the house and gently inquired, "What's happening?"
Upon sighting the gentleman, Phatik's mother was overjoyed.
"Oh my!" she exclaimed, "When did you arrive, Dada (elder brother)?" And so saying she touched his feet in deep respect.
Dada, or Bishambarbabu, had left home long time ago to seek his fortune in the western parts of the country. In the meanwhile, Phatik's mother had given birth to her two children who had now grown big; her husband had passed away. Dada had returned back to his native village after many years to meet his sister.
The next few days were like festive occasions in the Chakraborty household. Finally, only a couple of days remained before Bishambarbabu was to leave. He had settled in Kolkata. He inquired after the children's education and learnt that Phatik was not good at studies; but Makhan was a gentle and obedient child.
"Phatik gives me a lot of trouble," his sister told him.
After listening to this account, Bishambarbabu proposed that he would like to take Phatik with him to Kolkata and give him a good education there. The widow readily agreed to the proposal.
"What do you want to do, Phatik? Would you like to go to Kolkata with your uncle?" she asked the boy.
"I want to go," Phatik replied without a moment's hesitation.
Although the mother was willing enough to send Phatik away because she was always afraid he might cause some harm to Makhan, she was however saddened by the boy's eagerness to leave.
"When do we leave? Let us leave at once," Phatik began pestering his uncle. In his excitement, he did not sleep well that night.
In his joy, Phatik became the epitome of munificence and he gifted away his fishing rod, kite and spool to Makhan.
Phatik was introduced to his aunt when they reached Kolkata. But the aunt did not appear to be very happy with this new addition to the family. She had three children of her own and was finding it difficult to cope; sudden introduction of a 13-year-old unknown village lad into the family was likely to render the situation unmangeable! Her husband, she thought bitterly to herself, had not become sensible with age.
Boys between the ages of 13 and 14 are a nuisance. They are of no use. They don't arouse affection; their company is undesirable. If they lisp like a child then people think he is only putting on an act, and if he speaks like a grown-up he is considered to be too big for his boots. They tend to grow very fast without any heed to the size of their clothes. They develop a hoarseness in their voice which is no longer sweet to listen. It is easy to overlook the many shortcomings of childhood and youth, but the faults of a thirteen or fourteen-year-old boy is hard to tolerate.
The boy also realises that somehow he is not quite fitting into the society; so, he feels ashamed of himself. At the same time, he craves for love and affection; he would willingly gift away his soul to anyone who showered their love and affection on him! But, no one dares love him in the belief that it would amount to undue indulgence. So his state is almost like that of a stray dog which has become separated from its master.
Under such a situation, any home other than his mother's is like hell to the boy. The loveless environment pricks him like a thorn. At this age, boys, usually, look upon women as rare angelic creatures and they feel very depressed if slighted by them.
The aunt's scorn was intolerable to Phatik. In order to win her affection, he would go to great extent to do her bidding. If the aunt told him to do something for her, he would overdo it in his enthusiasm to please her. But the aunt would repress his enthusiasm by saying, "Enough, enough! You do not have to do anything more. Go to your own work, go and study."
Such utter lack of sympathy made the boy feel like a prisoner within the four walls. He craved for those days in his village when he could run around the playground trying to fly his huge kite, the incessant strolling on the banks of the river, going for a swim whenever he felt like it, his friends, and his independence. And, more than ever, the memory of his despotic and unjust mother overfilled his helpless heart. It was like the unconditional love exhibited by animals - the uncontrollable desire to be near the loved ones, the mute anxiety when separated from loved ones, the pitiful lowing of the calf separated from its mother at twilight. The same emotions agitated the shy, nervous, lean, tall, and uncouth boy.
There was no worse and inattentive student in school than Phatik. When the teacher asked him questions, he only stared blankly. When the teacher caned him, he silently bore the torture without a murmur. During the recess when other children engaged themselves in playing games, Phatik stood by the window and stared at the rooftops of the houses in the distance. If he happened to see children playing on the terrace he felt a pang in his heart.
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu