Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hello, may I speak to Dr Diya....?

So asked my father in law on the phone, being the nth person to extract a nervous half laugh from me and total loss of speech! This has been my predicament since I appeared for and cleared my viva voce examination held in November my relatives, friends and teachers have been addressing me as Dr Diya to my acute embarassment! Actually my first conscious encouter with a doctorate was in the 1980s when my father's cousin Minty pishi came to our house with her mother, my father's aunt. I touched my father's aunt's feet in respect but felt hesitant to touch Minti pishi's because she was very young and didn't look the types who had to have their feet touched. " O ke o pronam koro, o PhD korechhe!" ( Touch her feet too, she has done her PhD)said my grandmother and her sister, I got duely awestruck with this information and I remain till this day in awe of anyone who has done a PhD. To find myself in the same league makes me very uncomfortable. I had never thought that I would join MA classes at DU after doing my BA (Hons) History. I had secured 54% marks in BA and the cut off for automatic entry into MA was 55 so I had to give an entrance examination. I went for the exam because I did not know what else to do. I did pretty well, the results were announced according to merit and I was second in the South campus and amongs the first 10 in the north. I loved MA because I made 9 good friends and we had a rollicking time! In the slang of those time we freaked out! Then my father got transfered to Calcutta and I spent 6months in the Gitanjali hostel of DU South campus which was another great experience! My MA marks were good missed first class by so much because I had messed up a first year paper which I did not want to appear for again to improve the scores. All in all it was very exciting to do MA in DU. We were taught by the big three of the Sabaltern school of History- Sumit Sarkar, Gyan Pandey and Shahid Amin. I also got an opportunity to be taught by Dr Parthasarathy Gupta a wonderful teacher and a gem of a human being. When we met him he had suffered from a stoke as a result his speech and movement had been affected, still he never missed a single class and used to teach standing up. We sat in the front row and tried to catch each and every word he spoke. When I met him again during my MPhill days he tried his utmost to help me, giving me the names and phone numbers of his contacts who might be able to guide me. I know he would have been very happy to learn that I have managed to complete my PhD. Thereafter my parents enrolled me for BEd at Loreto College because I still did not know what I wanted to do and they thought that a school teacher's job would be perfect for a woman with a family-as that is what they wanted me to be. I freaked out again in BEd class and found a great teacher in Sister Lucy and many new friends. After BEd I insisted on joining MPhill at Jadavpur University, I had missed History and wanted it back in my life and this is the only time that I was sure of what I wanted to do. I also joined a part time job in a school. In Jadavpur I did not make any good friends but I found an inspiring teacher in Dr Ranjan Chakravarti who was also my guide during the writing of my dissertation and has been a rock solid source of support till date!
I had never thought of doing PhD even in my wildest dreams. I joined PhD because I got a scholarship from the UGC when I cleared my NET examination soully due to the efforts of the Mr. The Mr wanted me to teach in college because then, he thought I would have more free time. School teaching is much more taxing, he felt. I was teaching in a school and he had seen we struggling with the corrections of one test after the other. I am a thorough correcter and I used to take hours to correct. Moreover school teachers were paid a pittance compared to college teachers for all the efforts they put in. Anyhow my Brat was 1 when I joined PhD and the mite was 1 when I submitted it! Now its done and I have the Mr and my in-laws and hordes of other friends, relatives and teachers to thank for it. I have not mentioned so many people who were responsible for making me Dr Diya, but still it is an initial effort to thank the many people who made me what I had never thoought I could become.
I dedicate this 1ooth post of mine to all my well wishers who have helped me to become who I am.

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