Ridha Jha, 16
Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan
She sat by her cancer-stricken father’s bedside at night and got to the exam centre next morning. He didn’t live to see his daughter score 60.4 per cent (423 marks). On March 7, a day after her exam ended, liver cancer took him away. “Doctors had given up hope and discharged him in the last week of February. The cancer had spread to his lungs and brain. I had thought of skipping a year but he insisted… He tried to give me hope saying he would be fine one day. We couldn’t save him.”
The next challenge is to arrange money for her studies. Mother Sudhira, a homemaker, said: “My husband was the sole earner and our savings dried up in his treatment. My other daughter is studying engineering.”
Prasanta Das, 17
Mitra Institution (Main)
He had been staying at Refuge, a mass education department-run home in Sealdah, for the past seven years until rules forbade him to be there after the Class X exam. After Madhyamik, he took up a guard’s job in a housing project at Mukundapur off the Bypass to support mother Arati Das, a domestic help in the area. She was so poor that Prasanta had to be sent to Refuge. The boy now stays in a shanty near RN Tagore Hospital and works 12 hours every day in the scorching sun.
Prasanta’s mother was with him when he went to school on Thursday to check the result of his hard work: 485 marks, nearly 70 per cent.
“She was proud and cried holding the mark sheet,” Prasanta said. “I want to study, want to be a teacher… want to give her a decent life. I will quit the job and start giving tuition to meet my expenses.”
Tiyasha Mahaldar, 16
Radharani Nari Shiksha Mandir, Santipur
Her limbs are weak and small. She can’t hold a pen, sit up or walk. But Tiyasha Mahaldar of Nadia’s Santipur scored 74.7 per cent — a feat that made her parents, teachers, classmates and her doctor proud. She suffers from phocomelia — a congenital disorder that leads to malformation of limbs. She is less than 3ft tall and writes clutching the pen with both hands. Tiyasha’s father, a Calcutta police assistant sub-inspector, let the tears flow when the school called to tell him the score. “It was not easy to bring up a special child like her. People avoided us but we never lost hope. We salute her.”
Mother Supriya praised the teachers. “They ensured classes were held on the ground floor so that we didn’t have to carry her up. They also arranged for a big table so she could lie down in class.” Tiyasha wants to be a teacher. “I will take up arts and complete my MA.”
Tapas Prasad, 17
Nilnalini Vidya Mandir, Siliguri
He can’t see the mark sheet but is happy to have fulfilled his father’s dream: a first division. His world revolves around father Sarvan Prasad and grandmother Bhagirathi, having lost his mother at three. “My father is a mason. He has been looking after me with the help of my grandma. He always wanted me to secure good marks. Today, I feel really happy. I scored 430 in Madhyamik,” the visually impaired teen said.
“It is not easy for a visually impaired person to study maths. My teachers guided me constantly.” Tapas wants to be a teacher of history, his favourite subject. “I scored 74 in history.”