|Malavika in Chennai. Telegraph picture|
Chennai, May 28: Malavika Iyer had just stepped into her teens when she lost both her forearms in a blast. Two years later, she has put behind the tragedy to emerge as one of the toppers in the state secondary school leaving examination.
The 15-year-old, who enrolled as a private candidate through a coaching centre in the city, has scored 100 each in mathematics and science, 97 in Hindi — possibly the highest in Tamil Nadu this year — 97 in social studies and 89 in English.
In all, 483 out of a maximum 500, or 96.6 per cent overall.
Malavika’s mother, Hema, could not hold back her tears once the results were declared yesterday. “I am very proud of her,” she said.
The freak accident that forever changed the young girl’s life happened in May 2002. Her father, P. Krishnan, an engineer with the Rajasthan government, was posted in Bikaner, close to the Pakistan border. “There was a sudden explosion in the ammunition depot there,” Malavika, who was then a Class IX student of Sofia CBSE School, recalled.
As their house was close to the dump, one of the several ammunition pieces that had scattered landed on their compound. Thinking it was a “spent bomb”, Malavika had taken the hand grenade-like object inside.
A few days later, as she was fiddling with the object, it blew up. It “also blew away my hands”, she said. She also suffered multiple fractures in her legs.
Malavika was first admitted to a local hospital and later shifted to a speciality bone and joint clinic in Chennai, close to her grandmother’s place in Shenoy Nagar in the city. “We came here in March 2003 and after five months I started walking,” said Malavika, who still limps.
But the urge to complete her schooling made her look for other means as she could not immediately go back to her school in Rajasthan.
In October 2003, Malavika enrolled with the Arul Coaching Centre near her grandmother’s place and began preparing for the SSLC examination as a private candidate.
A pair of artificial forearms, made in Germany, came in handy.
“It is myo-electric,” Malavika said, gently lifting her arms. She can now even operate a cellphone. “This (the artificial arms) gave me a lot of confidence and my scribe wrote the exams.”
Her results have come as a big boost for Malavika. “For my plus two course, I want to do commerce and after graduation either go for the bank officers’ exam or IAS,” she said with a smile.
The words also brought a smile to her mother’s face and she shook hands with her daughter.
“We come from Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu but our family is in Rajasthan,” said Hema. “My elder daughter, Kadambari, is a normal girl and I try to ensure that Malavika feels the same way as her sister,” she added.
As word got around, DMK president M. Karunanidhi invited Malavika and her mother to the party office and praised the girl’s confidence and determination to succeed.
He later announced that a grant of Rs 1 lakh from the party trust will be given to Malavika to help her pursue higher studies.