Cadet life in Majid’s autobiography
Bhaskar Roy Barman
Class Seven 1978, a book written by Shakoor Majid, is a new kind of book in Bangla, as it explores the impact of a particular class upon a particular student. One may chance upon one or two such books written in English.
Shakoor Majid says in his introduction that his friend Khaled told him in 1984 of two books, titled Jakhan Pulish Chhilam and Jakhan Nayak Chhilam by Dhiraj Bhattacharya, just at the moment when he was pondering on the days he had left behind. These two books egged him on to write this autobiographical book.
Khaled then proved to be a rare friend who played a great role in catapulting Shakoor Majid into a literary career. His inspiration is reminiscent of the inspiration given by a publisher friend of Lewis Carroll�s, who chose to publish his world-famous book, Alice in Wonderland, the manuscript that Carroll had thrown into the wastepaper bin. Many know how a servant prevailed upon Bibhuti Bhusan Bandyopadhyay to publish his novel, Pather Panchali, the novel that was adapted into a film by Satyajit Ray. But for Khalid �s mention of the two books by Dhiraj Bhattacharya to Shakoor Majid, it is possible that Majid would not have written this autobiographical book. It is an acknowledged fact that almost every great writer owes his entrance into the literary career to the inspiration of a certain friend.
Now let us dip into the contents of the book.
The village school in which the author studied up to class VI subscribed to the newspaper called Ittefaq published daily from Dhaka. It came to school three days after publication. Immense to the author was the importance of the newspaper, for it carried the advertisement of admission results to the Cadet College every year. He had given the admission test to the Cadet College. A day in May or June 1977 was the first time the author heard of Cadet College when his father brought in a photographer, the author�s maternal uncle, to take a passport-size photo of the author so that he might try for admission to Cadet College. Though his father had expressed his desire to get him admitted to Cadet College, he himself did not know how education was imparted at the college; he had just heard of it as a good school. Even his grandfather who worked on a ship, visited many foreign countries and could speak English fluently, confessed his ignorance about the school. He, too, attached much importance to admission to the school so much so that he himself went over to Nowakhali to see �Owaliulla Sir� to know more details about the school. Owaliulla Sir had been teaching at the Model Primary School for many years on end. He told him that the students admitted to Cadet College had to pass through strict rules and regulation and were subjected to stringent discipline.
The author went over to Pilot School at Sylhet to appear for the admission test. Other students seeking admission came from famous schools around the city. All of them stood first or second in their last examinations. He saw no other student from his locality. He passed to his satisfaction through the written, medical and oral tests.
The story of how he had faced these tests justified his waiting anxiously for copies of Ittefaq to arrive at his college. The language the author has used to describe his impression of the school at his first visit is so simple and lucid the reader feels himself present at the spot while listening to the author�s recital. The author says that only two students from the entire Sylhet district got selected at the admission test and he was, it is needless to say, one of them. With this feeling of pride deep inside, the author strode into the premises of Cadet College on June 25, 1978. That day his father and Kashem Bhai accompanied him. They had put up at Hotel Shafina at Chittagong.
The moment he stepped into the premises, he felt himself surrounded by an aura of control. A name plate was put round his neck, with a number written against his name on it. The number was 1236. And he was instructed to adhere to certain rules strictly. Anyone who reads this book to its end will see how and why the students of Cadet College feel proud at being the students of this famous school.
CLASS SEVEN 1978
by Shakoor Majid
Price: Tk 130