Aparna at her Karimpur home. (Saurav Bhattacharyya)
Karimpur, Oct. 18: Aparna Nath yesterday reached Karimpur Girls’ High School 15 minutes early — and 22 years late.
At 54, she was beginning her career as an assistant teacher after a legal battle that stretched for 21 years, tested her tenacity and brought out the best in her family.
Aparna, a resident of Ananda Pally in Karimpur, will be able to teach for only six years before retirement but she said she would make the most of it and try to fulfil her dream.
“I got my job at such an age when many people start giving a thought to retirement plans. However, I had a dream to be a good teacher. I wish to make the most of what I have got. I have won a battle against injustice,” Aparna said.
Way back in 1990, Aparna, a BA and BEd, was short-listed for the teaching job in the school but did not make it as the post went to another lady who had allegedly crossed the age limit by the time a second — and clinching — round of interviews was held.
“The required qualification was BA with BEd with an age limit of 45 years. The school brought out a panel of the first five names. I stood second in the interview. But the lady who was selected came first in the interview but was aged 45 years and five months. I thought I would be given the job but the school authorities offered her the job,” Aparna said.
Aparna, who was 32 in 1990, explained that there were two sets of interviews in 1990.
“The first set was held in March but the school did not find any suitable teacher. I appeared for the second round in December. But the authorities selected the other lady and calculated her age from March 1990, which was unjust,” Aparna said.
Aparna said it was her father, who owned a big grocery store in Karimpur town, who helped her fight the case. “My father encouraged me to fight the case and win. I am also lucky that my four younger brothers, one of whom is an SDO, also provided me moral support. From time to time, I also used to give private tuition and spend the money on the case,” Aparna said.
She moved court in 1991. A civil court stayed the appointment — which meant the selected lady was never recruited — and ruled in Aparna’s favour in 1993 but the school challenged the verdict. The district court upheld the school’s position in 1995, following which Aparna went to the high court.
Former state law minister and lawyer Rabilal Moitra, who appeared for Aparna in court, said: “The high court upheld the verdict of the civil court (junior division) in Krishnagar in July. My client received the formal appointment from the school this month.”
Kajal Bhowmik, the secretary of the present managing committee of the school, said: “It is an old case and we don’t know much about it. We have given Aparna Nath the appointment following a high court order.”
Yesterday, Aparna reached the school at 10.45am, 15 minutes before classes begin. She was greeted by headmistress Indrani Sikdar and was introduced to the 22 other teachers.
But Aparna did not get the opportunity to take a class because of the ongoing half-yearly exams. “She will be allotted classes when the school reopens after the Puja vacation,” the headmistress said.
“Entering the school was a great feeling. I waited so many years for this day,” Aparna said.