Rafiqul and his father at their house. (Main Uddin Chisti)
Cooch Behar, May 20: Rafiqul Ali’s performance in the Class X final exams under the state madarsa board has brought cheer to his family as the the first generation school student secured the second ran in Bengal.
The son of a brick kiln worker from a village in Tufanganj, Rafiqul carried on with his studies while his family battled poverty. The 17-year-old boy would often help his father dig earth to make bricks.
He has three younger brothers who also go to school.
Rafiqul studied at Kadamtala High Madarsa in Bhairabertari village, Tufanganj subdivision, 36km from here.
Till three months ago, his house did not have electricity.
The headmaster of the madarsa, Gautam Kundu, said Rafiqul got 728 out of 800 marks.
“He has scored the second highest marks in the state. Rafiqul always stood first in class. We knew he would do well. We are very pleased that he has done brilliantly. Our school is shut for summer vacation. We will felicitate him when it reopens. He is a real inspiration to students who have shrugged off poverty to become the first in their families to write secondary exams,” Kundu said.
Rafiqul’s father Hamed Ali, who has never gone to school but has learnt to write his name in Bengali, said he and his wife Aleya Bibi were thrilled. “We all knew he had brains and was very serious with studies. The entire village is happy for him,” he said.
Ali earns Rs 5,000-6,000 a month.
Rafiqul said he was grateful to his teachers. “My father did not have the means to pay for private tutors. My teachers helped me and I used to go to a village coaching centre. I want to study in Al Ameen Mission in Howrah and write my higher secondary exams in science. I want to become a doctor.”
Rafiqul’s mother cannot wait to see the boy become a physician. “We are illiterate. The villagers and the headmaster used to tell us that my son would do well in studies. Can you tell me how long will it take for my son to become a doctor? I cannot wait to see him become a doctor,” she said.
The boy from Tufanganj, 24km from here, said poverty did not allow him to take interest in sports or entertainment. “In my spare time, I helped my father dig earth for making bricks. Now, I will help my brothers who are in Classes II, VI and VII do well in the exams.”
Today, Rabindranath Ghosh, the Cooch Behar Trinamul district president, said he would bear all expenses for Rafiqul’s higher education. “The boy is from my constituency of Natabari and I am proud of his performance. I have heard that his father works in a brick kiln. I will bear all expenses for his higher education,” he said over the phone.