My brother becomes my father's closest assistantWhen my father retired from his job as Chief Inspector of the Assam-Bengal railway line, he opened up a bank in the town. The name of the bank was Griha-Lakshmi, which means "House of Lakshmi." Since my eldest brother, Hriday, was at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Chitta went to work with my father.
At the bank, there were four or five rooms where my father and Chitta would stay during the week. On Friday evening, my father used to return home to our village, and then on Monday morning he would go back to work. Occasionally Chitta would also come home. They used to travel to and fro by ferry.
My brother Mantu and I had a private tutor in addition to our school lessons. The tutor used to give us lessons near a little temple that our family had for the goddess Lakshmi. Sometimes, on Monday morning, from the corner of my eye, I would see my father go to the temple for blessings and then start walking to the small dock to catch the ferry. Quite a few times I tried to follow him in secret. I used to watch him for two blocks and then run after him. I wanted to do it secretly, but my brother Mantu and my tutor used to shout at me, so I was always caught.
When my father saw me, I would start crying that I did not want to study. He would say, "How can I take you with me all the time? You have to go to school!" My brother Mantu would go and tell my mother what happened. She also felt that I should study, but she knew it was a hopeless case. So she would send a servant with extra clothes for me to wear in town during the week, since I would be wearing only a pair of shorts and a shirt.
Like this, many times I used to go to town instead of going to school. For seven or eight years, from time to time, I did not go to school. I would learn from Mantu and my tutor. Then, when the examinations came, I always stood either first or did very well. Of course, my teacher was also very, very indulgent to me because my father was a big shot in the village!
When I was in town, the whole day I would just roam. I would spend time with my brother Chitta at the bank or I would go riding with the messenger when he went out on errands. I also liked to go to the Karnaphuli River to see the boats and ships. Again, I was fascinated by thieves, so I used to go to the court to watch them.
I would either stay with my father and Chitta at the bank or with my maternal uncle. When I stayed at the bank, Chitta would cook for us. When I stayed with my maternal uncle, his wife would make delicious meals.
Often I would spend the whole week in the town. But if I insisted on staying in town for more than one week, either my mother would come to town herself, or she would send someone to bring me back. She did not like it when I stayed away too long.
I would always cry when I had to go back home. Why? I was very fond of my mother, but at home I had to study. Studying was too much, too much!