Saturday, August 29, 2015

YES, I AM PROUD, I DID IT ON MERIT... MY BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS






Pic.: Pradeep Nanda

I like to be dumb about some things in life… One of them is the ‘wisdom’ about ‘Reservation’… what it is, how it works, its good side and bad side and all that heavy ghyan

When I watch this 22-year-old Hardik Patel, who is leading the agitation demanding reservation for Patel community in Gujarat, I smile and tell myself: “Hey, at twenty-two, I had just landed in this great city of dreams… and was busy figuring out how I could make a place for myself, here, as a teacher… I did not know anything about the subject of Reservation, the Quotas and the Minority Community status and all that went along with that…

Yes, one thing I vividly remember. There was this boy in our neighborhood. He hailed from a high-caste and a high-class family… He was two years senior to me… My friends and I used to envy when we would see him constantly flirting with pretty girls in his car and motor bikes… Obviously, he wasn’t good at studies… But, when it came to his admission, this good-for-nothing fellow shocked all  of us by walking into a fine (Regional) engineering college….

“How did he get admission?” we raised our eye-brows!

Simple. We learnt from others, that the young-man had produced a bogus caste-certificate and got his engineering seat!

That’s was it… I don’t remember taking it so seriously… Because, it did not affect me at all, in any way…

Some years later, when I had been to my hometown, I remembered this young-man and enquired about him with one of my friends. “He has ruined his life,” my friend told me, “Turned a chronic alcoholic and is jobless at present.”

So much for the ‘Caste Certificate’… so much for the ‘Reservation’… So much for the ‘Quota’!

My struggle continued… I was blissfully unaware that, as a Christian, I belonged to a ‘Minority Community’ and I could ‘flaunt’ this card here and there, now and then, to make my way up or make my way in…

Then, one day, I had got into the BEST at Hutatma Chowk  to come to Chembur. It was the starting point of that bus. I got a nice widow seat and, soon, went off to sleep. Maybe a few stops the bust must have moved, I felt someone shaking me hard… I opened my eyes, “Uto!” a strong… thirty-something… woman yelled through her fierce eyes, “Padneko nahin atha hai kya? Ye ladies seat hai!”

By now, the bus was packed, I stood in the passage my crest fallen!

Some stops later, I saw some ladies seats getting vacant. But, I dared not to sit on them… Once bitten twice shy, you see.

But, I saw other ‘bold’ men venturing… But, as soon as they sighted a lady (mostly young and healthy ones) coming towards the ‘encroached’ seat, they would get off the seats and pre-empt a potential show-down!

“O bai, uto… ye ladies seat hai…  Dikta nahin hai kya? Padneko nahin atha  hai kya?’

That was the first time I got the taste of ‘Reservation’ – maybe a gender-related one and not related to any class, caste or creed…  But, the taste was quite bad, I can tell you!


Thank God, at 22, when new in this great city and struggling to get a foothold for myself, I  found on this city’s footpaths that used copy of the book- Napoleons Hill’s – ‘Think and Grow Rich’… Thank God, I did not find anyone to put into my head that ghyan about Resevation, the Quotas and the bliss of being born in a backward or scheduled class or tribe… or being born in a Minority Community… Thank God, I remained dumb and ignorant about this ‘wisdom’… Thank God I fought a ‘fair battle’ with all here… to acquire whatever little foothold I could make for myself…

Yes, I am proud, I did it on merit…

By my blood, sweat and tears…

Holding my head high!

GERALD D’CUNHA