The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Films and adda but no TV for topper

Kamalpur (Bankura), July 27: He had an irregular study schedule and had “secretly” seen a blockbuster or two at the students’ mess here, but 18-year-old Manas Karmakar never missed a class, was very attentive and neat and tidy at work.

That may not sound enough recipe for 978 in the higher secondary examinations though.

Blessed with an unfailing memory and grasp over his subjects, honed over the years, a modest Manas gave credit to his teachers, tutor and parents after notching up the highest aggregate by any of the approximately 3 lakh students who appeared for the HS this year.

“I did not expect to do so well…. Thought it would be between 920 and 930. But I’m very happy,” the doctor-to-be said.

With a rank of 73 in the joint entrance examinations, Manas has already been counselled for admission to Calcutta Medical College. “Though I got a better rank in engineering (20th), I chose medicine.”

Studying medicine would mean another five years away from home. A native of Rautora village in Kashipur block of Purulia, Manas left Talajudi High School near his home after completing Class VIII. He joined Kamalpur Netaji High School, about 25 km away, “for a better scope to do well”, said Manas’ father Swapan Kumar Karmakar, a primary school teacher.

“My parents helped me build my character and encouraged me in every way to do well. I am also indebted to my tutor Sagar Deoghoria who guided me not only in Physics but in my approach to education,” said Manas.

His “style” of studying was admittedly “very irregular”.

“I had no fixed routine but used to put in about four to five hours every day. This was in addition to the tutorials we had to attend between 6 and 9 every morning,” Manas said. But he found studying early in the morning most fruitful.

No less productive were his reading, adda and cricket. Television was not a part of his life though the mess he stayed in for four years did have a set. Manas said: “I only watched cricket.”

He had always been among the top three in class and his father saw early promise. “At Kamalpur, he never stood second. In Madhaymik, he scored 762 and ranked ninth,” Karmakar said.

Away from home, Manas stayed at Chhatra Niwas, a mess for the high school students run by chemistry teacher Subhas Chandra Patra. “His parents came to him every Sunday,” Patra said even as he leaked out his trysts with Hindi cinema thanks to the video player at the mess.

Suicide and threat

In West Midnapore’s Chandrakona, Avik Pal, who scored 601, fled home leaving a suicide note for failing to meet his parents’ expectations. Debarati Saha of Behrampore hanged herself from a ceiling fan because she failed to clear the exam a second time.

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