Unpleasant memories leave a bitter aftertaste. Especially those that bring a lot of pain and suffering and leave you in a trauma for life. I was one of those unfortunate ones to have gone through circumstances that were so ugly and agonizing, both physically and emotionally, that they could have scarred me for life. But they did not, miraculously. Now, I look back upon those days with nothing but nostalgia, laced with a whole lot of gratitude and admiration for that one person who changed the direction of my life completely. My teacher, my mentor, my guide, and my guardian angel, Dr Amitava Ray.
I was always a very active, restless, reckless kind of a person. I was not aware that everything would change when I reached the University. I entered Calcutta University to pursue my Master’s in English, with dreams in my eyes to be the top ranked student at the end of the course. And that would take me to the next step towards my ambition to be a Professor of English. Little did I know that ambitions and dreams do not always follow the path we dream of. I learnt it the hard way.
I topped in the first year of the course. It was in the second year that disaster struck. A couple of months before my final examination, while coming back from a road trip, my car met with a severe accident that left me broken, bruised, and scarred. Multiple compound fractures in my left arm, muscles and nerves torn out, nasal bones and skull injured, shreds of glass inside me, that is how I was admitted in the hospital. Half comatose, a series of operations and cosmetic surgeries, unending agony, painful memories, and my exit from the hospital bandaged and stitched up, left me heartbroken and lost. With only a few weeks to go before my exams commenced, I knew I would be missing them. One year would be lost. And God only knew when I would be fit enough to get back to pursuing my dreams. At home, recuperating, I felt broken inside and out.
That was when I met Dr Ray. Professor of English at Rabindra Bharati University, and Founder- Chairman of Shakespeare Society of Eastern India, the man is a legend in the literary and teaching fraternities. A chance meeting at the doctor’s chamber, and Sir took me under his wings. Tall, fair, white haired, he looked more like an aged and dignified saint, than anyone else. He asked me to visit him twice a week. And I did. He set about re-instilling my confidence in myself and my interest in academics. Time is nothing, he said. True strength lies in the mind. And if I could master that strength, I would be able to sit for my exams, a mere few days away. He tutored me, guided me, made learning interesting and enthralling enough to make me forget my pain for those three hours I spent with him twice a week. And eventually my exams were at my door.
I sat for the exams, bandaged, plastered, with my earlier request to the university, for a little extra time granted. I put in the best I could. And I knew that even if I just scored average, I would be happy that I’d put in my best.
Months passed. Results were declared. I ranked SECOND by a difference of just 3 marks. My family was super proud. I was ecstatic. And my faith in God was restored.
Later, Dr Ray guided me to successfully clearing the NET exams and mentored me through my doctoral and postdoctoral studies. Today I teach English at KIIT, India’s best privately run HEI. My dreams are fulfilled. Barring just one. I wish to be a Dr Ray to a lost, in despair Saptorshi whenever I am presented with the opportunity.
Some people are born to make the lives of others worthwhile. Dr Amitava Ray is one of them. Today he is old, over 90. But he continues to guide many others like me. And I pray to God that He/She makes more like him to make others shine. That one person, apart from my family, I will be grateful to till the last breath of my life, Dr Ray is nothing less than divine to me.