Who wants to study?

Father used to spend all week in town. He slept in the bank building, where there were many rooms. He came home on Friday evening, stayed for the weekend, and went back to work on Monday morning. From time to time I used to get inspired to go with him.

My brother Mantu and I had a private tutor. The private tutor used to give us our lessons right near the little temple we had for the goddess Lakshmi. The temple was about thirty metres long — about the size of three rooms — and there was also an upstairs.

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 and the private tutor used to shout at me, so I was always caught.

When my father saw me, I would start crying that I didn't want to go to school. He would say, "How can I take you with me all the time? You have to go to school!" My brother would tell my mother what had happened. She also felt that I should go to school, but she knew it was a hopeless case. So she would send the servant with extra clothes for me to wear in town, since I would be wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.

Like this, many times I used to go to town instead of going to school. Who wants to study? For a few years I never studied seriously. I would learn from my brother and my tutor. Then, when the examinations came, I would always stand first. 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 was fascinated by the thieves, so I used to go to court to watch them. I also liked to go to the river Karnaphuli to see the boats and ships.

My maternal uncle and aunt lived in town, and I would always stay with them. This uncle was very close to us. His wife was an excellent cook and could make delicious meals out of absolutely nothing. Often I would spend a whole week there. 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 else to bring me back.

When I visited my aunts in the villages, my mother would not allow me to stay for more than two days at a time. But quite a few times she allowed me to stay at my uncle's house in the town for a week. I would always cry when I had to go back home. Why? Although I was very fond of my mother, I didn't want to come back home because I hated to study. Studying was too much, too much!

My mother didn't like it when I stayed away too long. It was not that she thought I would become a bad student if I didn't go to school. It was just that I was her dearest child, and without me she used to feel miserable. That was the reason she did not want me to go to town.

During the school holidays my mother used to tell me stories from the Mahabharata. I could not read such big books, but I used to listen to her stories and tell them to my relatives.

Quite often it happened that her only aim in telling me stories was to put me to sleep when I wanted to stay outside and play or eat mangoes. In the late afternoon she would call me into the house and start telling me stories. After five minutes I would pretend to be fast asleep. Mother would be very happy; she would close her book and then watch carefully to see if I were really asleep. But I was watching her, too. Finally she would fall asleep, and then I would get up and run away.

After an hour she would wake up and send the cook and the servants looking for me. They knew what I was doing! They would find me inside the mango garden. I played that kind of trick many, many times.