The Telegraph
Thursday , May 29 , 2014
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Resolve their greatest strength

They have beaten the odds to come up trumps. Their heart-warming tales reinforce the belief that if one has the will to succeed, obstacles can’t block the way. Metro profiles some CBSE Class XII and Madhyamik toppers by virtue of their mettle

Angana Chatterjee, CBSE Class XII

She had to undergo surgery in between two of her papers and wrote business studies less than a day after being discharged from hospital. Angana aggregated 83.4 per cent and scored 91 in English.

The 18-year-old wrote the English Core paper on March 1 with severe abdominal pain that had started the evening before. She was diagnosed with appendicitis and advised an emergency surgery.

Angana was admitted to hospital on March 3. “I was initially reluctant to go in for an operation during the board exams. But the exams would continue till mid-April and the doctor advised against waiting till then,” she recalled.

Angana was discharged after surgery on March 5. She had carried books to the hospital but could hardly study because of pain. “I have no memory of the day after my surgery because of the effects of antibiotics. My school gave me the confidence that I would be able to write my paper. When I went to the exam centre on March 6, I was having problems bending and writing. I was given a special chair with cushions but the pain was still troubling me and I had to take medicines,” said the student of Army Public School.

Surabhi Baid, CBSE Class XII

She could barely go to school in Class XII, yet managed to aggregate 92 per cent in the board exam.

The 17-year-old was diagnosed with Koch’s Spine — caused by the tuberculosis bacteria that attack the spine — following a 20-day fever last May. “Doctors advised ‘complete bed rest’ for four months. Even after that I couldn’t go to school regularly and had to miss classes,” said the student of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.

Despite not having attended school, Surabhi wrote her pre-boards in January. “I had done 50 per cent of my course but I wanted to test my ability,” she recounted.

When Surabhi started sitting in a chair again, it was initially for around an hour at most. “I couldn’t sit for long because of backache. But I had to practise, else how would I sit for three hours writing a paper?” said the commerce student.

The school authorities had arranged for a bed in the examination hall for Surabhi. “I lay down for 10 minutes but only after completing my paper. I didn’t want to take a break and get distracted. I kept writing despite the pain,” she said.

Many had advised her a year’s break. “I told myself I would prove them wrong and I did that. One has to have faith in oneself.”

Nisha Bairagi, Madhyamik

The daughter of a rickshaw-puller in Howrah has scored 615 out of 700 — more than 87 per cent — in Madhyamik, coming first among her batchmates at Ghoshpara Nischinda Balika Vidyapith.

Raised in a single-room house with tiled roof, Nisha from Nischinda Purba Para in Bally couldn’t afford a private tutor. Studying all by herself, she has bagged nearly 90 per cent in six of seven subjects.

Father Tapan Bairagi had to run extra trips with his rickshaw so his daughter was not forced to discontinue her studies. “Our struggle has borne fruit. She has topped the school. I will now run even more trips to help Nisha reach her goal,” said Bairagi, whose wife is a homemaker.

What concerns Bairagi is whether his earnings would be enough to see Nisha through. “She wants to study engineering. My earnings might not be enough to meet the expenses. So we are looking for support from others.”

Nisha’s other dream is to give some relief to his father. “I don’t want him to ply a rickshaw. He has been toiling day in and day out to raise me. I want to bring some relief to him,” she told Metro.

Akash Kumar Singh, Madhyamik

The son of a taxi driver had to request his school last year to waive his Class X tuition fees so he could continue with his studies. National High School, on Hazra Road, granted his plea, paving the way for Akash to pass Madhyamik with flying colours.

The resident of Chowbhaga on Basanti Road, off the Bypass, has scored 585 out of 600 — more than 83 per cent.

“My father fell ill around June last year. The bulk of our meagre family income of Rs 3,000 a month was spent on his treatment and I could not afford the tuition fee of Rs 2,690 for the June-January semester. I had appealed for a waiver and I am grateful to the school for accepting it,” Akash said.

Akash wants to pursue science at the plus-II level but his immediate concern is to find a berth in a government or an aided school, where the fees would be within the family’s reach. “I can’t seek waivers repeatedly. So my priority is to find a berth in a government or an aided school,” said Akash, who occasionally tills land in Bihar. Akash’s mother is a homemaker and sister a student of Class VIII.

The boy does not want to study engineering, aware of the family’s financial hardships. “If I don’t get a good rank in the JEE, I will have to settle for a private engineering college where the fees will be astronomical.” His goal is to crack the admission test of the National Defence Academy. I want to support my family financially at the earliest,” said Akash.

Sanjukta Naskar, Madhyamik

Cerebral palsy has robbed her of the ability to speak and stand on her own. She wrote Madhyamik with the help of a writer, who faced the daunting task of reading her lips correctly. But the resident of Kodalia, Sonarpur, scored 477, around 69 per cent.

“She contracted the disease because of a wrong vaccination within days of her birth,” recounts Sanjukta’s mother Sonali. “She has always been keen on studies, prompting us to get her admitted to a mainstream school. Although we feared about her results, she proved us wrong.”

When Metro asked her about her aim in life, the Bharatanatyam dancer spoke in a barely audible voice. “I want to become a schoolteacher,” interpreted her mother.

Runu Jana, the headmistress of Sanjukta’s school — Balia Nafar Chandra Balika Vidyalaya in Garia — said the 16-year-old has always been a “sharp” student. “Her mind is extremely sharp. She never tires of asking queries if she finds a topic difficult. Her tenacity has paid off.”