Back on the Right Track"

Author: C S Vincent

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Yes, I was put back on the right track when I was showing some signs of deviating from it, by a good friend of mine. I was then around 26 years young, and still a student. I wish to relate the incident here, for more than one reason.

I was not fortunate enough to enter an Engineering college – they were very few in the year 1950 and not in dozens, as they are today. I chose to study the next best course and acquire a diploma, which was declared equivalent to an engineering degree. It was a tough affair and so I could not pass it, when the institute completed the course. I took up a job and was studying privately for the exams. Well, I passed, but for two subjects in which I met with successive failures. These shortcomings discouraged me a lot. Studying is a tough job and I am sure most of you will agree with me. The amusements of the world attracted me and I ‘Beat the retreat’ from the boring studies.

I was not the only soul; many of my classmates were in the same beat. Some were sweating with the studies hopefully. Some found good jobs, married and settled down. I was also enjoying myself in the company of student-friends, both male and female, pursuing hobbies like pen-friendship and social service, to name some. Couple of years passed.

I kept in touch with my class-mates, seniors and juniors, and one of them was doing justice to his studies. He was stuck up with the same subjects which stumped me. He regretted much when I told him I was a free bird, no longer tied up with books. However since he was preparing for the exams which were approaching, he asked me if I could help him with some chapters of ‘Machine Design’. (Perhaps he was under the impression that I had cleared that subject). I felt that there was no harm in obliging him. We sat for an hour daily in the evenings and went through the chapters. In the course of time, he wrote the exam and was quite happy in the days that followed. He took every occasion to insist on my completing the course. That was until he left the city.

On soul-searching and considering the progress of my friend, I was convinced that I should go back to my studies. I decided to take up the next session of the exam very seriously. One of the subjects that I was not able to conquer was ‘Machine drawing’ and the reason for the failure was the lack of speed in me. I therefore took a month’s leave and sat on the drawing-board every day. I made it a point to complete one ‘plate’ daily, in a stipulated time. I attacked the exams with diligent preparation and did justice. I was declared passed in January 1959! Applications flew and I was in a central Government job shortly thereafter.

My friend also left his job and joined the Bhilai Steel plant, soon after I moved. But his dream was to be in Defence Services – as a Commissioned Officer. He applied and joined the National Defence Academy, Dehradun. On his invitation, I also visited N.D.A, once or twice. Once he was commissioned, he was posted at Secunderabad. I took up a gazetted job in Calcutta and shifted in 1961. My marriage took place thereafter and I was transferred to Hyderabad. Soon after settling in Hyderabad, I rushed to the army units and made enquiries about my friend. Only a disappointment awaited me. I was told that my friend had been posted elsewhere. Thus connection between us snapped nearly fifty years back.

Now, as my memory takes me back to the bygone days, this friend who put me back on the right track comes to mind, but I have no clue about his whereabouts. His name is P.S Raghavendra Rao and he hails from Dharmapuri. He must have retired as a Lt. Col., or Major. I am penning this note with the fond hope that if he happens to read this, we will be in touch once again. Even if any of the readers happen to know the whereabouts of Raghavendra, he/she may kindly communicate the same to self. This is my humble request. Thanks.

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