“I have grown up listening to my grandfather’s stories. ‘Stories’ for me but real-life incidents for him. My grandfather was born in Chittagong, current Bangladesh, and was an avid freedom fighter. Later, he worked in Burma in a factory and finally came to India, along with my grandmom. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked him to tell me about the horrors of the riots and the deaths only because I wanted to know the struggles of our people more closely, and what had actually happened.
And it is because of his stories that I had always wanted to do something for my country, for people at the grassroot level. Something that seemed to be slipping away from me when I was doing my engineering. That’s why I thought of pursuing the Union Public Service Commission exams. I gave it my all — yet it didn’t seem to work out. I was disheartened, more so because that meant I can’t fulfill my Dadu’s (granddad’s) dreams.
I grew up in Chattisgarh but ours was a typical Bengali family. One that not only places huge importance on academics but also encourages you to follow your hobbies, till of course, it doesn’t clash with the much dreaded boards.One that loves discussing football, Uttam Kumar, West Bengal politics over a hearty breakfast and then plans their mangsho-bhaat (chicken curry and rice) and their afternoon siesta while they listen to Sandhya Mukherjee crooning on the radio.
Ours was also a family that nurtured the notion of a ‘good job’ — that of an engineer or a civil servant. So when, neither worked out for me, they found it difficult to accept the reality. I was heartbroken and depressed. I kept wondering if I will ever be able to stand on my own feet, work on things I wanted to do.
But I like to believe that life gives you chances — more than once — to realise your dreams. I am finally working for an organisation that is helping me connect to the grassroots, working with people who are bringing about a real change. This has rekindled my desire to give back to my country. I love teaching kids — I have spent so many weekends teaching underprivileged kids. I always look forward to going back to that.
I believe that to change the system, you have to be in the system — you have to believe in the system.
The best part is the support I get from my husband in everything I do. Now that we are unable to go out, our Sundays are spent discussing the op-eds from The Hindu or the latest developments in International Relations. I have no qualms in admitting that a hot steaming cup of liquor tea and riveting discussions on politics with your husband is nothing less than the ideal.”
-Ankita Chakraborty , Customer Relationship Manager