A boy who lost his mother on the day of his economics exam, a girl who studied through chicken pox, a daughter who borrowed books for her exam because her father lost his job and a hero who broke his leg chasing a criminal ahead of his final papers.
For some very special students, success in ISC 2014 wasn’t just about answering a set of questions. They had to clear the tests of intrepidity and determination before they competed for academic glory. The Telegraph spoke to four bravehearts who triumphed against the odds.
Motilal Nehru Public School, Jamshedpur
Subhasish didn’t go home after writing his economics paper on March 7. He went to a crematorium where his family was waiting for him with his mother’s body.
“I shall never forget the day. At 10am, I was revising for my paper, my elder brother was watching television and Ma was finishing her puja. She hollered from the puja room to say that she would cook for me and I shouldn’t leave home for my exam without eating. Then, suddenly, she collapsed,” said the 18-year-old student of commerce who scored 54 in economics and aggregated 87.5 per cent.
Subhasish’s father and brother rushed his mother to hospital while they compelled him to appear for his exam. He learnt his mother had a cardiac arrest and had passed away around noon.
“It was hard to believe she was no more. Here I was answering my paper and there I knew she would not be home to receive me. I did not leave the exam hall to mourn. I knew she would want me to face this challenge and emerge a winner,” the doting son said.
The house was crowded with grieving relatives and Subhasish decided to stay with his mathematics teacher for three days to prepare for his next paper on March 11. He answered his accounts paper a day after his mother’s shraddh on March 17 and scored 92.
“Skipping the remaining papers did cross my mind. But, my father reminded me what Ma would want. I had to be strong. My aim is to complete CA. One day, I will do her proud,” the teenager said.
Nirali Arun Seth
ADLS Sunshine School, Jamshedpur
Just after her English language exam, Nirali discovered she was suffering from a severe bout of chicken pox. Relatives discouraged her from taking the other papers, but she had the moral support of her mother. Her father was out of town for business. Resting her feverish head on her mother’s shoulder, Nirali took a 5km auto ride to her exam venue.
“At times, I thought I wouldn’t be able to sit through the test. But, my parents have always taught me never to give up,” said the 17-year-old pure science student who has notched 84 per cent.
With blisters and rashes all over her body, Nirali could barely study during the whole exam month. If she managed to read a book for half an hour at a stretch, she would be so tired that she would have to spend the next hour sleeping.
It took Nirali 21 days to recover. By then all papers, barring chemistry, were over. “I tried and I have no regrets,” said the teenager who aspires to be a mathematics professor.
Gulmohur High School, Jamshedpur
Riddhi is unlike other privileged children of English-medium schools. While she was in Class XI, her father lost his job as an electrician and his mother took up tailoring at a shop in Telco market. The 18-year-old taught primary school students so that she could buy her own study materials. But the Rs 800 she earned every month were not always enough.
“We are a family of four and studying was not easy in a one-room rented house. I gave tuition for two hours every day to pay for my books and notebooks. Some books are expensive, which I could not afford. I borrowed from my seniors,” said the commerce student who has scored 74 per cent.
At one point of time, Riddhi even feared that she would not be able to finish her schooling. However, moved by her hard work and will power, school principal Sunita Sinha waived her tuition fee and even gave her father an electrician’s job on the campus.
St Xavier’s School, Bokaro
One fine night a year ago, Prashant was woken by the screams of his neighbour. He soon realised the man had been robbed. While chasing the robber, the teen fell off the parapet and permanently damaged his right leg. But, physical disability has not deterred the 17-year-old from meeting other challenges of life, academic exams for instance.
“What happened to me was like a bad dream, which must be forgotten for a brighter future,” said the science student who has aggregated 94.5 per cent.
Prashant, who had remained in hospital for several weeks, has also cleared his IIT-Mains and is preparing for IIT-Advanced.