by Bobo Khuraijam Life is filled with surprises. It comes in a mixed bag. Some are bitter in taste. Some are sweet. Some are unpleasantly cold. And some surprises are comfortably warm. Surprises of that kind are received with alacrity and brightness. We desire to be pampered with it for all the time. But that would just not happen. How would one call it a surprise when it comes about recurrently? GROWING VEGETABLES: Our friend Tomcha has got a new job. He is going to be an officer. It has been a dream of his family for him to become an officer. Right from his school days he has been a hard working student. He would get good marks in exams. His examination report cards are a testimony of his standing in a high scholarly ground. He did not care to wait for the results of the senior secondary examination. He was dead sure that he will get good marks, in fact, very good marks. So like other good students, before the results got declared, he joined the most sought after coaching classes. The coaching classes coach him to be able to crack the most sought after competitive exams ever known in the land. With sheer determination he came out with flying colors in the competitive exam. What a day it was. Everyone in the family cried with tears of joy. After that, for the next five years he went through a tedious period of hard work, again. The day of he got his degree; he was not sure whether he should be happy or sad. After all the degree was just a degree until one gets a befitting job, he thought. He was right. He knew that the institution in which he studied churns out regular batch of degree holders like him, every year. He has seen his predecessors slogging for a decent job in spite of the degree in their hands. Those who could get a foothold in the post graduation seemed to be in a better position. For those who could not, they have got little time to tell their stories. Some of them would stay in Delhi; surviving on unsavory food from the catering, fighting the extreme climate – all for the PG entrance. Some of them would hole up elsewhere with their books – all for the PG entrance. They would often claim that life of a degree holder is worthless without a PG degree. Even for those who have stayed back home, you would not notice them in any of the thoudok wathok. For most of the time they are engrossed in their studies. Once in a while you wish to stop by your friend’s house when you happen to pass by. Just to say karam touri? You will not be disappointed but you will thank yourself. Thank yourself for not being a prestigious degree holder, who is insipidly cut off from the world, preparing to pass through another horrendous exam for yet another degree. We would keep on wondering why specialization needs special examination, which could turn friends into creature; partly a numb scientist, partly a drunken poet, partly an eccentric lawyer – all built into one. Why would they keep only a few seats for specializing in PG? Lesser mortals like us in the Leipung would doubt. Would not more numbers of specialist help in giving health care to the people? We are not wise enough to indulge in policy debates. We would wet our pants to argue with our policy makers. But one thing we surely would like to assert: grow vegetables at home instead of turning our friends into vegetables! ONE DAY: yes, one very fine day our Angam Athou(s) declared that they are going to employ some degree holders as officers; Medical officers, to be precise. The news was like a cool shower after a scorching summer heat of displacement into the desert of PG entrance. It was like the day when Tomcha got through the MBBS entrance. His family was more excited. His relatives were more thrilled. After having going through the privation of preparing for the PG entrance, Tomcha have changed. We do not know whether the change was positive or negative. He was indecisive about sitting for the state exam. No, he did not doubt on his capability. He was confident of answering all sorts of questions. Although he was engrossed in his studies he was still aware of the winds blowing in homeland. He knew how systematic and transparent the nature of employing government servants in the state is. Nevertheless, he sat for the exam. And to his utter surprise he got selected. More amazed he was when he saw his scores. He score was accurate with what he had counted after the exam. Most of his degree holder colleagues also got selected. The results were late but never too late. His family and relatives rejoiced, again. Tomcha was going to be an officer – a medical officer. A stable government job will secure a stable income. What about the specialization? This thought would disturb Tomcha. Anyways, he thought of unwinding himself for sometime with his family and friends. After all, he had been passing days among the pages of his books: searching for the lost meaning of life and education. The wait for the appointment letter along with the place of posting was going to be a long one. Many of his colleagues had already started running hither and thither. Their parents well knew the game of posting the Angam Athou(s) play. In between there was also a change of portfolios among the powerful(s). Tomcha heard that parents who extremely love their ward spent from fifty to sixty grand(s) to secure a good posting. A good posting means where there is minimal work and which falls within the four valley districts. Beyond that it is taken as a curse. Tomcha was not surprise. He finally got to see the notice of appointment and place of posting from a Xerox shop. The shop was equipped with all kinds of government orders and notifications. He had to go through all kinds of verifications. From police to what not: the way in which the folder which contains his documents flies from one table to another; and the amount of time it took, he thought he could travel back to stone age and come back to this age superfine. We are also not surprise. FOOTNOTE: our teachers are on strike demanding optimum pay scale with accordance to the six pay Commission. Some of them are ruthlessly dump into jail. In the meantime Taibi has claimed that the matter will be best put to the acceptance of the people if they are ready to pay double the amount of tax. Leipung Ningthou calls it, “san laaba dagi sanggom summaga Himalay phi yaodana kaaba”.