Preparation For Petaro College


My father was curious to know my reaction and when I told him that I wanted to go to Petaro Cadet College, he was happy and took a sigh of relief. I was now preparing for admission test which I was told, was also not easy. I persuaded my school friend Saifullah Soomro, to accompany me and when I narrated the attraction of going to Petaro, he agreed to join me. Both of us studied hard to be able to qualify for admission. The entry test was held in Noor Muhammad high school, a famous school of Hyderabad which had provided quality education to local people of the region. 

Syllabus of Petaro Cadet College Entry Test

This test was held in two parts. The first part was a written test comprising three sections namely, English, Mathematics and Intelligence test. After the tests there was a lunch break which afforded the examiners to check our answer sheets and announce the results. We also went out with our parents to have our hard-earned lunch and on our return, we saw result sheet posted on the notice board. Like any other student waiting for exam results I was nervous but determined, and I leaped in air in joy and excitement when I found my name in the list of qualifiers. My friend Saifullah had also qualified. The second part consisted of interview test in Petaro Cadet College.

Talking First Time With a Foreigner

There is one good thing about my name. I am usually on top of the list as my name starts with alphabet A. And therefore, I didn’t have to wait too long for the interview.  As I entered the room, I saw three gentlemen there. Col. Coombes, a British national and Principal of the college was heading the team. He was a hefty and robust man with a thick brown moustache. In his typical British accent, he told me to sit on the chair in front of him. Let me confess here that it was the first time for me to talk to a foreigner.  Let alone a foreigner, I was still learning the basics of English.  I realized that I was in big trouble here but with determination I composed myself and remained calm. 

Interview for Petaro Cadet College

The interview started with usual questions about what was my name, my family background and why I wanted to join this college.  As I was expecting these questions, I had prepared myself to answer like a parrot.  Suddenly he asked an odd question of which I didn’t understand a single word.  I thought of asking him to repeat the question but then considering that it will leave a bad impression, I decided otherwise, and in a confident manner, I said “yes”. And lo and behold, all three gentlemen looked at each other and muttered something within them.  I knew that I had fallen in a trap. Col. Coombes asked a man sitting by my side to get it clarified from me in my native language. This man spoke to me in Sindhi which gave me comfort that at least I was on a home ground now.

After Joining

Later on, after joining Petaro, I came to know that he was Mr. Mangi, a Sindhi language teacher.  He asked me in Sindhi:

“Do you keep cows at home, extract milk and sell it?”

What an odd question, I thought. My brain computer started working.  Surely this must be the question which was put to me in English, of which I was absolutely clueless and had replied in affirmative. I decided that I have to maintain the same stance to be in the race for admission in college.  With the same level of confidence, I again said “yes”. All three looked at each other with curiosity written large on their faces. Now it was time for me to react otherwise I thought I would be gone. And in Sindhi I spoke to Mr. Mangi:

“Sir! as I have already informed you that I come from a village.  And in a village life it is customary to have a herd of buffalos. We milk these buffalos and make three parts of it, keep one part of it for drinking, one part of it is fermented and converted into curd from out of which we skim butter and lassi, which is the local name of yogurt. then, we distribute third part of milk to the people around us who cannot afford to have a cow or buffalo. And coming back to your question, my answer is that we may not actually be selling milk, but we distribute it free of cost”.

After admission in cadet college petaro

My answer was translated to them and they had a good laugh at it. 

“Can you milk a buffalo yourself?”

This was his next question but this time in Sindhi language.  By now I was also amused at our conversation, and my natural instinct of wit and humor took the better of me, and I answered:

“Sir! you admit me in your college and I will strike a deal with you and practically prove to you that I can milk a buffalo”.

This time the laughter was too loud and was heard outside the room. Col. Coombes spoke:

“Now it’s a deal. You are selected.  But you will have to prove your point”.

I jumped out of the chair in excitement. My mission was accomplished. Many months later after I had joined the college, Mr. Mangi would remind me of my deal and I would laugh it off and tell him:

“It was my trap”.

From that day until I met Col. Coombes, I had been trying to figure out what made Col. Coombes ask a question that was so obscure and out of context. With the grin he had explained to me the reason which amused me. What exactly was the reason? I will narrate this story in the next chapter of this biography. But I was happy on one count. Whatever it was, but for me this odd question had made my life easy, enabling me to get into the corridors of college.

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