By Nafees Ahmad:
The last time I travelled in a train was in February, 2012. It was during a study trip to Udaipur organised by Deshbandhu College’s Political Science department.This time it was a different journey. I was heading to Bharatpur to take an exam for my ‘rozi-roti'(daily bread). It was the Combined Graduate Level Exam (CGLE), for which thousands of young graduates appear every year. I boarded the train on a February evening with my friend Krishna.
Everything went well until we reached Bharatpur. We tried to find a cheap and affordable hotel room but couldn’t. We could not sleep the whole night as we were under the judicial custody of a large army of mosquitoes who welcomed us by irritating sounds and excruciating bites. We decided to stay awake all night and had tea at regular intervals, roaming in areas close to the railway station.
The next morning, we had breadpakora and left for our respective examination centres and gave the exam in a sleep deprived haze.
Then, something struck me on my journey back to Delhi. I couldn’t stop thinking about the unemployment of my peers and I, the agonising competition in government jobs and the institutionalised exploitation in the private sector. I brushed away the thought, escaped from the helpless situation I found myself in and tried to get some sleep in the overcrowded bus back to Delhi.
Two days later, I started preparing for the IB-ACIO (Intelligence Bureau- Assistant Central Intelligence Officer) which was to be held on February 22, 2015 in Meerut. It was the second exam for my ‘rozi-roti’. Every day I got up in the morning and left for the library. Most of the time I used to read on history and practise writing English essays as they were the two key requirements for the ACIO exam. After studying for more than three months, I mustered the courage to head to Meerut.
This time I was neither tired nor sleepy. I gave the exam with a lot of ease and wrote an essay on “Inclusive Growth: A pipedream.” I wrote an extensive essay equipped with facts and statistics. But I failed to understand the correct meaning of ‘pipedream’. Subsequently, I wrote additional and unnecessary information which was neither required nor relevant to the topic. The result was ultimately declared and I flunked. I’d failed again for the second time.
Keeping both my failures in mind, I geared myself up for some fallback options and took the decision of appearing for the SBI recruitment exam. It was also the first time that I took an exam online. As usual, I waited anxiously for the result and was mercilessly declared to have failed. I had by then developed a kind of relationship with all my failures.
As I was getting consoled from all corners for my failures, I tried my luck in the NGO sector. Days passed by and each day increased my frustration of being without a job. Things took a turn all of a sudden when I got a call. It was completely out of the blue. It was a call for a job in a very small NGO called Jamghat. The job involved working with under privileged children. My salary was meagre but it was enough to pull me out of frustration.
It was a beginning. A humble beginning and things started changing for the better. A three-month tenure in the NGO helped me to recover from my frustration and gave me a new lease of life. I took inspiration from the kids who did not have anyone in their family.
While I was working at the NGO, I was able to complete my master’s. I was able to engage myself in some productive activities like sharing my knowledge with the children and playing cricket with them. It just marked a new beginning in my life and I’m happy to share it.
Whenever I recall my unemployed days, I shiver in tension. Those were the most terrible days. I used to live alone and stay awake for half of the night. It was difficult to face friends and family. I used to mask my feelings by saying that I was preparing for the civil services. The nightmare of unemployment still haunts me. I do not want to go back to those days.