Suraj Rajak with his father in Jamshedpur last week. Telegraph picture
If Aamir Khan ever made a sequel to Dhobi Ghat, Suraj Rajak of Jamshedpur can be an apt inspiration.
The 19-year-old grew up in poverty, amid soapsuds and hot irons on earthen stoves. But he loved math and dreamt about integrated circuits.
Suraj’s father Ganesh is a dhobi-cum-istriwallah, a man who makes a living from washing and ironing clothes. The family of four — Suraj, his parents and an elder sister, another sister is already married — lives in a one-room home at a Sonari slum.
Defying all odds, he bagged an ITT-JEE rank of 1,414 (SC category). Come June, he will get called for counselling from IIT — in other words, know in which cradle his dreams to become an electrical engineer will come true.
He knows his rank is not good enough for the core IITs, but is happy that he will bag a berth in any of the new IITs, ISM-Dhanbad or BHU (IT).
Suraj, who passed his intermediate in science last year from Karim City College, spent whole of last year either scouting for funds to get “good IIT coaching” or studying.
Suraj needed Rs 30,400. “My father earns about Rs 5,000 a month, so he couldn’t spare money for my IIT-JEE coaching,” he said.
But his family knew that their boy had brains. His coaching institute MIIT-JEE also found it out soon.
They all chipped in with money and encouragement.
“My mother gave everything she had saved over the years from household expenses. My relative Chhote Lal and others gave money. MIIT-JEE waived 20 per cent of my course fee,” he said.
He added it was a big gamble.
“I was riding on my dreams with money from my family. We are not rich. If I had not succeeded, I would have felt guilty about the money,” he said.
Right now, he is looking forward to finishing his studies and bagging a good job to help his family out. “They will live with dignity and comfort,” he promised.
Father Ganesh added: “At least, he will not be a washerman like me. People will respect him. I could not afford his coaching, but he made me proud.”
Faculty members at MIIT-JEE, Suraj’s coaching institute, added that had he got a rank below 1,000, he would have made it into any core IIT.
“But this is a minor quibble. Let us not take away anything from his triumph. This rank is his gateway to a better future. He will get admission to a good institute,” said Ravi Bhushan, a teacher.