I have been in Bangalore for the past nine years and I wanted to revisit my life prior to that. So, that’s what this article all about. My parents left their home – a joint family of four brothers – in early 1980s in a year after I was born, to a different village, of course with same occupation – farming/agriculture. The new village we moved had no electricity, vehicle connectivity, telephones, school or any other infrastructure. The farm land was good but any crop would attract nearby wild animals, and hence life was tough. My parents did not get through primary schooling, but my dad fought hard to get a primary school in our village, while the village didn’t even have one. I never went to Kindergarten while my first three years of schooling had only three days a week since the school teacher came only during Tuesday to Friday in a week. I still remember clearly – the school teacher gifted me my first pen and notebook, when I started third standard. Until then I wrote on a small chalk-slate. I went out of my home to my parents ancestral home (the one mentioned previously) to continue my studies. That meant I was just eight years old and wasn’t staying with my parents.
There were other students who stayed in that home for schooling and we had to walk 1.5 miles to reach the school. My dad’s brothers were farmers as well, and I should say, it was a nice time of my childhood. Many kids and lots of fun. I would come back to my parents home only during vacations – for a month in October and during April-May summer. I was the topper in every class which had less than fifteen students each year. I recall the teacher there, one day, wrote my name Basker and I went to ask him to rectify the spelling to Bhaskar! This sparked a debate/gossip for a few months in the village (50 odd houses) that, ‘a student rectified a teacher’s mistake’.
I completed my primary schooling as a very good student but again, my parents had to figure out a home who’d accept my stay for going to high-school. Our village would never get anything beyond Lower Primary School because of the lack of facilities and lack of numbers. The whole village had no person who studied beyond primary school and nearly half the people did not even have any kind of formal education. During those days, many families who had better education in their villages let the nearby village students to stay at their home to go school, for, in most cases, free. By mid 1990s our village got a road that could be useful during summer and of course no other facility. If there was a medical emergency, people would carry the patient on their shoulders for five miles in hilly dense forest area to reach to the nearest state transport bus facility, and there were buses only for four times a day (to this writing the village has same infrastructure). And the bus would take 2hours to reach the town. By the time academic year was starting, my dad found a joint family of 20 families who accepted me to stay there for schooling, of course for free. In fact it was so weird as neither of the us knew each other before (introduced by a common acquaintance). The school was good, and I am in touch with a few of my friends from there even to this date. But stay was difficult for me, and I got humiliated by that family members, quite often all twenty members sitting together. I was no longer the class topper but I managed distinction in year-end exams. I asked my dad to change my staying house, and he managed to get a house of an elderly couple in a different locality and school altogether.
In the second year of my high school, I felt even more terrible with the way things went at home I stayed at and hence my dad found yet another home for my 10th class stay. With all these, I finished my high school with a distinction grade, staying at unknown places, punching above my weight all the time. Then came decision point in our family – should I continue my studies? Parents finally decided to send me to college with a condition that ‘I would come back and continue farming after college’. After all, I had already ‘studied’ and was more educated than my parents! During my college, I managed to stay in top league of students, was good at presentations and got recognised for sports commentary. Well disciplined student with distinction grade who had no intentions to get into white collar job! I stayed with my sister during college in a rented room, with just two pairs of clothes and some uniform which was compulsory. Even I recall a situation where we had no money to pay for my college in fifth semester having stood first in the class in previous semesters. I did not even have a bicycle, and whatever little I earned – like organising trade show and scholarship – used it up for the home not spending personally. I had a habit of keeping account of every penny I spent during those days – I even counted small money that was given out to beggars or coins put into temple donation boxes.
During last year of my graduation, just after sister’s marriage – my dad was diagnosed with cancerous brain tumour. I completed my graduation in 2003 and went straight back home to make a living out of farming or rather to make my dad undergo surgery. Family was in debt and the village had just got electricity but no other facility. I started leading the family – as my dad who was under constant medication suffered short term memory loss. He would simply forget anything and everything – and the family was more dependent on labourers than ever before for getting the work done. We grew various crops like Arecanut, cardamom, black pepper, paddy, sugarcane etc. along with a hobby apiculture. I learnt a lot – working in the farm land by myself, managing 15+ labourers and so on. In January 2005 my dad had a surgery for his brain tumour and to our dismay he was not getting cured.
After two full years in agriculture and managing the family – I picked up the books for MBA entrance exams and managed to score 38th rank in state level exam! So, since 2005 July, I have been in Bangalore. Life has taken lots and lots of turns! I always admire people who could change their careers and be successful… After all, I believe you have only one life, move on!