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UPSC Diary: Given Another Chance, I Would Try For UPSC All Over Again

Many from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh aspire for a government job. Perhaps because it is ass­­ociated with respect, status and job security in a state where unemployment is the primary narrative

UPSC Diary: Given Another Chance, I Would Try For UPSC All Over Again
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Middle class existence

In the year 2013, I left my first job in retail management in Bangalore and returned to Patna. Then, I joi­ned my brother in Delhi, took up a job and remembered an old dream.

My father was a journalist. My mother, a government schoolteacher, loved writing. I used to be surrounded by my relatives all the time as we grew up in a joint family. This was my mother’s side of the family. A lot of people, dreams, achievements, set notions of love, affection and respect for each other as well. A lot of disagreements too. My Nana Ji always told stories about his days of duty. He was a deputy superintendent of police and also ran a nursery to provide for a big family. He also played football and in the neighbourhood, people respected him and still refer to him as Daroga Ji. Two of my uncles were in the Bihar Police and a cousin was in the Indian Navy. The above facts created me, forged my thoughts and gave me that ambition, that dream and that purpose.

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Childhood memories Mukul’s brother with his father and mother

Many from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh aspire for a government job. Perhaps because it is ass­­ociated with respect, status and job security in a state where unemployment is the primary narrative. I was convinced I was made for some public service. Army, police, anything. Like my grandfather. Like my uncles, like my cousin.

Dare to dream

Near the oddment of 2013, I commenced preparing for competitive examinations, including the ones held by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

In the years 2013, 2014, and 2015, I tried for the Army and Central Armed Police Forces. During the interviews, I was screened out owing to the tattoos that I have inked on my body. Back when I was in my college in Bangalore, I learned the art of tattooing. I kept failing the physical tests. I cried alone a lot.

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His grandfather

2015 was the last year I tried to join any of the uniformed services. I didn’t make it.

I left my job in Delhi and returned to Patna, my hometown. I joined a local coaching centre and started preparing for banking sector jobs and civil services examinations. I used to walk from my home to the centre to save money. I felt guilty for not being able to clear the exams for three consecutive years.

Coping with failures

Do you know what an UPSC candidate sacrifices the most? It is the kneejerk emotion evoked from watching one’s own mother tra­­v­­­e­lling almost 100 km to earn a decent living for us. She had put on hold her passion for wri­t­ing. I had also wanted to be a photographer, a model, but these weren’t the choices one is allowed to make when one’s family situation is like mine. My father’s health was declining. The year 2016 was very painful. Cardiac arrest snatched my father away.

But I cracked various banking and insurance exams in that particular year. I worked at a bank in a faraway town for some time but quit. I had decided to give UPSC another shot. My elder brother had run into his own problems and my mother was approaching retirement age. Time was running out for me.

I returned to Delhi in 2017. But I was losing confidence in myself. I still kept preparing.

I turned 30. I was still dependent on my brother and mother.

There was that heartbreak of not having the career that I wanted and there was the other, of a failed romantic relationship. The one I loved left me. First, we met less and less, and then we spoke less and less. I suffered many anxiety attacks. It was hard.

The year 2019 was my first attempt at the UPSC civil services examination. I failed. And then, yet again in the consecutive years till I was no longer eligible. I am 32 now.

I gave a decade of my life to UPSC examin­a­­­t­­ions. It is a very lonely stretch and a painful part of one’s life. One needs to compromise on so many fronts, miss out on so many things, ruin so many relationships and postpone what one loves doing by living in our own small world of exam preparations.

This is a life that one chooses knowing fully well that hours and hours of reading and memorising things bear no guarantee that you will succeed. One sees people turning away from you, people disrespecting you, calling you names. It was like looking into a black hole. It was scary. It still is. But here I am. With no regrets. Given another chance, I would try for UPSC all over again. Not for the power. But for the sake of my unrealised dreams.

(This appeared in the print edition as "UPSC Diary")

Ayushya Mukul is a former upsc aspirant who has appeared for more than 100 competitive examinations over the years and is now starting all over again as a management trainee

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