I used to graze a cow and a few Ox from morning to evening. In the afternoon I would go to the market with cow’s milk and sell it. With the eight Taka saved from the income from selling milk, I set up a pan-bidi shop.
Economist Atiur Rahman-Bangladesh Bank Governor said.
I was born in a small village of Jamalpur district. We had to travel 14 kilometers to the city on foot or by bicycle. My uncle Mofizuddin was the only metric pass in the whole village. My father is a very poor landless farmer. We are five brothers, three sisters. We used to spend our days without eating.
My grandfather’s financial situation was fair. But he did not let my father stay in his house. We had so many siblings and parents living in a makeshift house not far from my grandfather’s house. The mother received a small portion of the grandfather’s property from her father’s house. Three bighas of land were bought in it. In that land which was unsuitable for cultivation, what my father used to grow with great difficulty, he used to gather food for 5/6 months in a year. What poverty is, I have come to realize – there is no food, no clothes to wear; What a situation!
My mother was little educated. He is the key to my studies. Then I got admitted in the primary school next to my house. But my family was so poor that when I was in third grade, I didn’t have the opportunity to continue my studies. The elder brother left school earlier and went to work. I also had to leave school to earn a living.
We had a cow and a few goats. I grazed them in the field from morning to evening. In the afternoon I would go to the market with cow’s milk and sell it. In this way, the two brothers were spending their days on what they used to earn. After a while, I went to a pan-bidi shop with eight rupees saved from the income from selling milk. I used to sit in the shop every day from morning till evening. I have stopped studying, I will do it at all – I didn’t even have that dream!
One afternoon the elder brother said, there will be a drama on the school field today. I clearly remember, I didn’t have any clothes to wear then. After emptying my body and lungi, I went to see the drama with my brother. Arriving at school, I was shocked! So colorful and wonderful environment all around! I thought I could be like everyone else. I decided that what I really needed to do was learn how to do it right.
On the way home after watching the drama, I told my elder brother, can I not come back to school again? My brother remembered the way I spoke or the sad look on his face or any other reason. He said, “Okay, I’ll talk to the headmaster tomorrow.”
The next day the two brothers went to school again. The older brother made me stand outside the headmaster’s room and went inside. I stand outside and listen clearly, my brother says that I should be given the opportunity to participate in the annual examination. But the headmaster said in a contemptuous manner, what is studied with everyone! My head went down when I heard Sir’s words. As much as I went to school with hope, all fell to dust in one word of Sir. However, my elder brother insisted that I be allowed to take the test. There are only three months left for the exam. When I returned home, I told my mother that I had to take three months off. I will not be here anymore. Because there is no food in the house, no clothes to wear – I don’t have any books, but I have to pass the exam.
Mother said, where to go? I said, I will go to the house of my one-time classmate and now the first boy of the class, Mozammel. I have an acquaintance with his mother. In the few days I’ve talked, I’ve been a very good person. Believe me, he can’t give me back.
I went to Mozammel’s house in a daze. Khalamma gladly agreed to open everything. I got food and shelter; The new life began. I started studying anew. At once I remembered the contemptuous words of the headmaster; Let’s study better.
The test started on time. I’m finishing one test at a time and I’m getting more and more excited. My confidence is also increasing. On the day the results were announced, I went to school and sat in the front row. The headmaster brought the results. I noticed that he was hesitant to read. He is looking at me sideways. Then announced the results. I was the first! Hearing the news, the elder brother cried with joy. I’m just impassive – as if that was supposed to happen.
On the way home he saw an unprecedented scene. My brother and I are walking proudly. And behind me a group of children are shouting and shouting at me. The whole village responded! My illiterate father, to whom the first and the last are the same, is also overjoyed; He just realized that the boy had done something special. When he heard that I had gone upstairs, I needed a new book. The next day he took the khasita of the house to the market and sold it for 12 rupees. Then he took me to Jamalpur. I bought a new book from the Nabnoor Library there.
My life has changed completely now. I go to school every day. I do household chores in my spare time. I have already fallen in love with the sirs. Fayez Maulvi Sir began to look after me like his child. With the care, affection and affection of everyone, I became the first and got up to the fifth class. Uncle Mofizuddin, the only metric pass in the village so far, looked for me. I took refuge in his house.
After completing my primary education, I was admitted to Dighpait Junior High School. Uncle is the teacher of that school. Other teachers knew about my struggle. So I got extra caress and love from everyone.
When I passed the seventh grade and went to the eighth grade, one day my uncle cut an advertisement and showed it to me. That was Cadet College Admission advertisement. I filled the form and sent it in time. Needless to say, my name was Ataur Rahman. But in the admission form of the cadet college, the headmaster of the school wrote my name Atiur Rahman and told my uncle, this boy will be something big one day. There are many Ataurs in the country. His name needs to be a little different; So I made Atiur.
I woke up at night to study and prepare. I went to take the test with my uncle on the appointed day. That was the first time in my life to go to Mymensingh. Go and see everything in the eye charakagacha! Of all the boys, I was the only one wearing pajamas and a sponge! I thought it was better not to come. I suffered unnecessarily. I took the test anyway; I didn’t think so. But two months after I received the letter, I was elected. Now I have to go to Dhaka Cantonment for the final exam.
Everyone is very happy; Only I am disappointed. I don’t have any pants, I’ll go later. At the end, I borrowed the full pants of the school clerk Kanai Lal Biswas. I got another shirt. Uncle and I left for Dhaka. Uncle taught me to take the oral test and stand at the door and say: Ma I come in sir? That’s right. But I said so loudly that everyone present laughed out loud.
Mirzapur Cadet College principal M. one of the examiners. W. Pete stared at me from head to toe. He sat me down with absolute affection. In a moment he became very close to me. I thought, I have no fear if he is. Pete Sir looked at my written test book. Then he talked to other examiners in English. Although I didn’t understand everything, I could guess that I liked them. But they said nothing. The next day I visited Dhaka city and came back home. I concentrated on my studies as usual. Because I assumed, I wouldn’t have a chance.
Suddenly the letter came three months later. I was finally elected. It will cost 150 rupees per month. Out of this 100 rupees scholarship will be given, the remaining 50 rupees will have to be provided to my family. I was heartbroken after reading the letter. Where my family is not guaranteed to eat three meals a day, I am living in my uncle’s house, it is unthinkable to pay 50 rupees a month!
When this was the case, for the first time, my grandfather became vocal. After so many years, he looked for his grandson (me). He took me to other uncles and said, “Can’t my grandson study even if I have such a good opportunity?” But their condition was not very good. They said, I will raise 50 rupees at least once, but it is not possible every month. Grandpa also understood the matter.
I did not see any more light of hope and went to that Fayez Maulvi Sir. He said I wouldn’t mind staying. The next day he went to the market with two more colleagues and me. Went to the store to get a towel there. He asked everyone for help. Everyone gave eight annas, four annas, one taka, two takas as much as they could. In all, it was 150 rupees. And the uncle gave 50 rupees. With this little money I was admitted to Mirzapur Cadet College. Excluding travel expenses, I paid three months salary at 150 rupees. Another life began.
M. on the first day. W. Pete Sir came to see me. I said everything openly. I also informed that since I can no longer afford the salary, the cadet will have to leave the college after three months. After hearing all, Sir raised my issue in the board meeting and arranged a scholarship of 150 rupees. Since then I have not had to look back. I got fifth place in Dhaka Board in SSC examination and many more successes were added.
My life is full of donations from ordinary people. Later I went to school and college in my area. When I help as much as I can, I also cooperate. But 150 rupees taken from that market; That debt has not been repaid even today. Even if I sacrifice my whole life, that debt will not be repaid!
(Economist Dr. Atiur Rahman talks about his life in his own language)