Memory that pains

Childhood memories are always sweet to every person; may it be about school days or playing different types of game with friends which we remember throughout our life. My experience is something different i.e. not all sweet. I was born in Tinsukia, Assam and thereafter shifted to Digboi, a small industrial town known as the location of the oldest oil refinery in the country. My father, being a Civil Engineer, did serve there for quite a long period of time.
Life in an industrial town is quite different and I had no idea before how ugly it could be in a particular matter. People over there, mostly employees of the Company, used to socially mingle with others affiliated to similar status and salary. Quarter allotted to an employee reflects official status of him/her and members of the concerned family get socially treated accordingly! There was a total division between upper grade and lower grade employees. Since I disliked such mindset and used to play with all without indulging in any discrepancy, my parents often had to tolerate adverse comments from colleagues and neighbours.
Once I requested one of my friends, in front of their quarters, to bring a glass of drinking water for me and my friend looked helpless and hesitated to do so. Then I realized that his father was a lower grade employee than my father and according to the prevalent “custom” he was not supposed to bring a glass of water for me also! I was so shocked at the incident that I still remember how my eyes welled up with tears. Though it was long ago, but I am not sure if the same custom is still being followed there or not. Hope there has been a change for the better in the social order.
ASISH CHATTOPADHYAY
Kolkata, India

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