When my father became the owner and manager of a bank, he 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 in addition to our school lessons. The tutor used to give us our lessons near a little temple we had for the goddess Lakshmi. 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 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 study. 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 study, but she knew it was a hopeless case. So she would send a 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 seven or eight years, very often I did not go to school. I would learn from my brother and my tutor. Then, when the examinations came, I always stood 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 Karnaphuli river to see the boats and ships.
My maternal uncle lived in town, and I would also stay with him. 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. She did not like it when I stayed away too long. I was her dearest child, and without me she used to feel miserable. But quite a few times she allowed me to stay at my uncle’s house for a week.
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!