|Mayarani with son Pabitra in Malda. Pictures by Surajit Roy
Three weeks ago, Mayarani Sarkar, a labourer, turned up at the district magistrate’s office for the third time in a month to seek help for her son who has got admission to the MBBS course in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.
“I have run up debts of nearly Rs 50,000. I don’t know how my son can study medicine. My husband, who was a daily wage-earner, was ailing for quite some time. He hardly earns any money,” said Mayarani, waiting outside the DM’s office with Pabitra, her eldest son, the medical student. Tears started to course down her cheeks as she spoke. She wants help from somewhere.
A resident of Nalagola Colony in Bamongola block, Mayarani has her husband and three sons to look after. They live in one room, with tin sheets for walls. Mayarani's husband, who has been ill for some time, can only go out once in a while to sell fruits. Mayarani runs the household on 100 days' work.
Her second son Gourango is a Class X student and the youngest studies in Class II.
Pabitra could defy poverty and do well at the higher secondary examinations. He secured 289th rank in the joint entrance examinations (JEE) in the Scheduled Caste category and got admission to the MBBS course at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on July 23.
It was a dream come true for Pabitra. But poverty caught up.
|The JEE letter that shows Pabitra’s rank in the examination
The books and tuition fees have cost Mayarani Rs 50,000 already. She has two other sons to support. She says she doesn't know what to do any more.
The family has been running from pillar to post, desperate for money, a lump sum, or a monthly amount. Anything.
“I have to spend Rs 3,000 a month as tuition fees to study medicine. There are other expenditures. We went to the ministers, MPs and MLAs and other dignitaries in the district seeking help. All of them have assured to assist her. But nothing has come as yet,” said Pabitra.
A student of Raiganj Coronation School, Pabitra had managed to finish school with money his parents could borrow now and again.
“This is the third time this month that I knocked the door of the DM’s office but failed to meet her. I have submitted a written appeal for financial assistance so that my son can continue his studies,” Mayarani said.
She said she had initially met the block development officer who told her that there was no provision for extending such help at the block office. The BDO had advised her to meet the DM.
Mayarani said she could not buy her son new trousers and a shirt to go to college.
“I took loans from so many people, including my neighbours. Now no one seems to extend any further help. I shudder to think how to repay to loans,” said Mayarani.
They were not able to meet the DM. Pabitra has gone back to his college. Mayarani thinks if Pabitra could advance so far on so little, it's not fair to give up the struggle for his education now.