It is often said that if you are determined to achieve something, you will accomplish it by confronting whatever sea-like adversities come in the way. Mafikul Islam is such an exemplary talent, an icon to all, to the society he belongs to. Hailing from a very humble family, from the periphery of the State, he becomes a unique model of how to make the impossible possible and how to move forward if you have a dream in your eyes.
Mafikul has been selected as a Commercial Tax Officer in the West Bengal Civil Services (WBCS) exams (executives), for 2018, Group C. Before this selection, he had worked as a Primary School teacher from 2002 and in a State-run high school from 2007, on being selected through the State School Service Commission. This achievement of Mafikul may not stir many people to be unique or 'exemplary', but his struggling journey seems to be so, especially to those like him who belong to the people of the marginalized communities of the country. Poverty, lack of opportunities, joblessness of his father, and his father's regret for being unable to continue his higher studies on the one hand and on the other his zeal, his persistence to overcome oddsto see a better future, werethe dynamite within him that drove him to this stage of successive achievements.
His father, Ramzan Ali, now 63 years old, tilted his small share of land and had worked as a daily wager during Mafikul's student life to run his family of four members. The place they belong to is a 'political hotspot' locality in Bengal's Domkal block of Murshidabad district where political murders, killings, and groupings are daily occurrences. There was not much scope for alternative jobs for his father. Naturally, it was never imaginable for a student like Mafikul to come to this stage of achievement. It was only possible when he prioritized his nourished ambition over the adversities he faced in social life.
Mafikul's family of six members including his wife and their baby, is overwhelmed by his success. Ramzan Ali, said "There was a time my family went through a huge financial crisis when my elder son used to be a student. I could not afford the expenditure of his studies at that time and so his higher studies got hampered. We became very happy when he first got the job as a primary school teacher and later in a high school. But whenever we thought of him, regrets ate us up with the thought that if we managed to afford his higher studies, he would have attained some higher jobs. But today, my son fulfilled our dreams and wiped out our regrets. We are happy with this success."
Mafikul completed his primary and secondary education from his village school and was admitted to Domkal Bhabataran High School in 1997 in the science stream for his twelfth standard studies which he passed in 1999 with a score of 62.88%. Though he secured first class in his twelfth standard board exams, there was no local college that offered Honors in science subjects at that time. And as his father was not able to spend money for his studies, he did not think of going outside the locality. He even got a chance for admission in the engineering department of 'Murshidabad College of Engineering and Technology' institute in Bahrampur, 20 km away from his home, but he could not risk the plunge due to financial reasons. Thus he was forced to give up his dream of higher education and took admission in the Government-run Primary Teachers' Training Institute, (P.T.T.I.), which cost less money, to take training to become a primary school teacher in 2000.
He finally got the opportunity to work as a primary school teacher in 2002. In the meantime just after the one year teachers' training course, he took admission in English Honors in the local Domkal College in regular mode, instead of science subjects and completed the graduation in 2003. Although the financial situation improved after getting the job, Mafikul's desire for higher education did not change. So he enrolled forMA in English and passed it from Rabindra Bharati University through distance learning program in 2005 with a score of 52.25%.
Based on these results, he passed the SSC examination in 2006 and joined the National Entrance High School as a teacher of English. But even then, his parents hadregrets about him not being able to make higher achievements – which he could not accept. He had seen the tears of his parents many times. In his words, "After getting my job, my parents were happy but they were always sad and crying. They said that due to the financial condition of the family, I was forced to drop out of school. If there was no shortage of money, I would have got a better job. So since 2014, I decided to sit for all the examinations for the state government's higher grade jobs and will wipe out their grievances. "
That's how he started preparing for the state civil services exam with a friend, Mahatabuddin Biswas, from 2014. He also passed the 2015 WBCS Preliminary exam and was called for the interview in Group D. But he could not make it to the final list. Finally, he cracked the WBCS 2018 Exams, Group C, as a Commercial Tax Officer in the Revenue Department. He also appeared forthe WBCS (mains), the results of which have not yet been announced. Apart from this, he passed the written examination for the appointment of District School inspectors 2018 and gave an interview. Now it is just a matter of time. Maybe he can take a place in the final list there too. Now he is helping his younger brother to prepare for the civil services exam.
He did not have the opportunity to become a college professor as he did not have 55% in English in his post-graduation. So he re-enrolled in MA in History in distance education ofIGNOU in 2016 and passed with 69% marks. With this, he succeeded in cracking the West Bengal College Service Commission exam (WBSET) for recruitment in the State-run colleges. Mafikul has shown with his own life that people can conquer anything with sheer perseverance, determination, and faith. He is an eye-opener to all who encounter hurdles for their studies and financial crisis to arrive at their dreams. Mafikul is indeed an example for all of the struggling student communities who belong to the poor section of the society.
The preliminary exam for the WBCS 2018 was held in January 2018 and the main written tests in August 2018. A total of 11,036 candidates appeared for the main exams out of which only 203 candidates, were called for the interview that was conducted between February and March of this year. The final results came out on September 4, 2020, after more than two and a half years. He is one of the 94 total candidates and one among the 19 Muslim candidates out of the total selected for the six different departments under Group C to be appointed in the State administrative cadre.
(The author is a freelance journalist based in Calcutta)