Bidis first, books later for Class X examinee

Jhuma rolls bidis at her home in Murshidabad’s Samserganj. Picture by Samim Aktar

Behrampore: International Women's Day on Thursday will be like any other day for Jhuma Khatoon in Murshidabad's Samserganj

The 16-year-old will roll bidis and prepare for Madhyamik exams barely a week away. As her peers pore over books ahead of the exams from March 12, Jhuma must support her mentally unstable elder sister and two younger school-going brothers in Class V and Class II.

Jhuma's mother Sitara Biwi died seven years ago and father Lutfal Haque passed away three years ago. "After my father died, I did not know what to do. I knew how to roll bidis as I'd watched my parents do it. Now I earn Rs 225 a day. My younger brother, who is in Class V, helps me by cutting bidi leaves to size," said Jhuma, whose four other elder sisters are married and live with their families.

Elder brother, Shetab Sheikh, 28, left their home in Chachanda village after marriage and stays separately. Mijaur Rahaman, headmaster of Chachanda High School where Jhuma studies, lauded her efforts.

"I told her it was fine if she could attend school even two to three days a week because of the hard work she has to put in. I hope Jhuma does well in her exam," said Rahaman.


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