He completed his last peg for that night. It gave him an unknown source of unending nerve. He opened his laptop. He signed into his Gmail account. He started typing.
I don’t have the courage to write this to dad, so I am writing this mail to you. Please pass this to dad. But I suppose that won’t be a required, but I am still writing this. Not sure why, but this was needed. I could never gather the courage to say all these face to face. Even now I am scared about what will happen when dad sees this. I wish I could be near you people when you actually read this but I know I will be miles away.
I am sorry. I quit.
Our family has been a family of engineers and that also quality and studious ones, not the ones who bribe their way to the college. From grandpa to dad, from uncle’s sons to aunt’s daughters and from your side too, it’s like a factory producing engineers. It was like there is no other career options other than being an engineer. I remembered the frustration and shame that was etched on boro jyethu’s (elder uncle in Bengali) face when his son, my favourite Chintu da (elder cousin-brother) could not crack IIT (a prestigious and extremely tough exam in India to get selected for the best engineering colleges in India) in his first attempt. The amount of pressure he went through to crack it the next year was frightening enough although it had no effect on boro jyethu. I still remember how proud and happy he became when he saw that Chintu da scored great the next year. So, even before I could understand what engineering is, my fate regarding my career was sealed.
I was never great in studies, a bit better than average. But with slogging it hard and my God gifted talent of by-heart I somehow had good grades to show-off. Even in my Class X board exam, I secured enough marks to choose Science from a reputed school. I was smiling and bubbling with joy but deep inside I was scared, more so thinking about Chintu da’s condition. I was over-confident and self-doubting at the same time. But with my sealed fate, I had to choose Science.
I never learnt swimming properly in the pond and I was straightaway thrown to the ocean, not just to swim and survive but to swim and win. Science in higher secondary was terrifying enough even for the meritorious students, I was just a high-class average guy. It was really difficult for me to understand all those calculus, differentiations, thermodynamics, gravitation, alcohols and phenols, periodic table, cell theory, evolution and so many other chapters. I felt helpless, lonely, delusional, irritated. I cried, I sulked, I suffered, I endured pain but could never gain enough courage to share this with you or dad. I had to make you two proud and maintain the family legacy. After school was over, there were long gruelling coaching classes as if the school sessions were not punishing enough. So, my life was basically a tussle between my dislike and my unwilling yet forced to continue attitude towards studies.
Remember that I got a prize in a local drawing competition when I was just a kid; I always liked to draw and paint. I always wanted to be a painter but I never could speak my mind out to you people. I loved to make my imagination run wild and create something soothing and beautiful. I even thought that somehow, I could become an engineer and then pursue painting as my career. It might not have given me the fat pay package that dad earns, but at least I would be happy. But I never realized that pursuing your dream of becoming an engineer could be so harming that I will have to lock my dreams inside machines and practical lab books.
My IIT result was so shocking and poor that my ever so proud and hopeful dad never even thought of making me seat in that exam for a second time. I know dad did that out of disgust and frustration but it was really helpful on my part. I could never have digested another huge failure in my life. I somehow cracked an engineering entrance exam and got shipped to South India where I got admitted in an engineering college in Tamil Nadu. So, if studying was not enough burden, I had to stay miles away from my home.
Engineering is like this huge tornado which just blows you away. Classes, assignments, lab works, lab reports, practicals, presentations, more assignments; I just had no idea about how can I survive the first semester, forget four years. I was hardly sleeping at night in the fear of how would I survive the next day, my health was deteriorating, I started getting addicted to alcohol, all thanks my tension and depression and over enthusiastic friends. I stealthily had packed my old drawing copies and colouring items in the luggage with which I came here and it’s needless to say that I fear to even touch them as I am afraid I may even flop myself in paintings also.
I always felt sad that you two never encouraged or inspired me to paint more although you both knew I was good at that.
Finally came the internal exams, two sets of them. And did I fail them miserably enough!
I have no idea how can I even complete one semester.
So, here I am sitting on my bed with my laptop, all alone in my room. My roommates, all of them, have someway secured passing marks in the internal exams, have gone to catch the new Tom Cruise movie, MI5.
And I slither here, all alone, in disappointment, agony, frustration, despair. How can I ever stand in front of dad being a let-down of a highly successful man? How can you ever take me to family get-togethers and functions knowing that I have not become an engineer? I will become the blotch in our family legacy. How ashamed you all will be about me. I will have nowhere to go, nobody to meet or share my problems with. I have just completed an almost full bottle of local hooch. But still I have gotten no comfort from my squirming, writhing pain except that I can finally write this. The only way to end this insolent, pathetic life is to end my present condition. I am sorry mom, I am truly sorry. I could never become the efficacious son that you and father always wanted.
One more time, I am sorry. I quit. Hope you two can forgive me.
He closed his laptop. He looked at all his belongings, one last time, all thrown here and there. He started to look for something but could not find it, the leather belt. He found it in his old, unwashed, stinky jeans. He took it out, it was inevitable.
He also took out the print out of the train ticket from Chennai Central station to Howrah station and started to get ready.
P.S.: I myself am an engineer, happy with my life and my parents never forced me to take up engineering as my career.