Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

Bidi worker's doctor dream

Mousumi Khatun would roll bidis along with her family in a Murshidabad village not long ago. The 19-year-old is now a first-year MBBS student at Calcutta National Medical College and a step closer to her dream of building a life for herself and her loved ones back home.

By Jhinuk Mazumdar
  • Published 31.08.18
  •  

Hasina and Mousumi receive their awards at Science City on August 25 from former forest guard Prafulla Nayek, who runs a free school for village kids at Simlipal in Odisha

Park Circus: Mousumi Khatun would roll bidis along with her family in a Murshidabad village not long ago. The 19-year-old is now a first-year MBBS student at Calcutta National Medical College and a step closer to her dream of building a life for herself and her loved ones back home.

"In families where one person is dedicated to making bidis, the earning potential is Rs 150 a day for 1,000 of them. But my mother has her household chores to do and so can manage about 800 to 900 a day. I used to help her when I was home," said Mousumi, joint winner of the Dr Amiya Kumar Bose Memorial Award at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2018, presented by IIHM and powered by Sister Nivedita University.

For Mousumi, who scored 83.14 per cent in Madhyamik and 82.6 per cent in the Higher Secondary examination, studying medicine has always been a goal. Her mother, who realised early that her daughter had potential, put her in the Birbhum centre of the Al-Ameen Mission in Class V. After Class X, she went to the organisation's Uluberia centre.

"Whenever I returned home and took it easy for a few hours, it was my mother who would remind me that I should not waver from my goal. She made it clear that it was not possible for her to fund my higher studies and so I should score enough to win scholarships," Mousumi said.

Winning the Dr Amiya Kumar Bose Memorial Award was just what Mousumi had been hoping for. "This scholarship means a lot to me because it will enable me to complete my medical studies without having to worry about how to pay the fees or buy books. We are grateful to her for giving us this opportunity," said Mousumi of Bose's gynaecologist daughter Gitasree Mukherjee, who instituted the scholarship in her father's name in 2015.

"Dr Mukherjee met us (co-winner Mosammad Hasina Parvin and her) last Saturday at the Science City auditorium and congratulated us. She told us that she had studied at the same college as ours. It felt good."

Mousumi, who started attending classes with borrowed books, aspires to be a cardiologist.

"My mother was married off when she was in Class VIII and could not continue her studies despite wanting to. She has had to raise us single-handedly but she never gave up. She keeps telling me that I should first become financially independent and only then marry," she said.

Mousumi's classes end at 4pm, after which she travels to Sealdah to take a train to Dum Dum, where she lives in a private hostel. "Medical science is not easy and I have to go back to what has been taught during the weekend. But I am determined to become a good doctor. I want to treat patients who cannot afford to pay for it," she said.