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29 May 2017

Madhyamik heroes - four bravehearts who refused to be cowed down by adverse circumstances and went on to score high marks in Class X

TT: Subrita Bhandary

Krishnachandrapur High School
She is 16 but not your average teenager with wants parents struggle to fulfil. The only things this school topper has ever asked for from her mother are the books she needs to continue her education. 
“I know we are poor and that I should be focusing more on my studies,” said Subrita, who aspires to be a scientist. 
The girl from Nalua village, near Mathurapur in South 24-Parganas, took a big stride towards that dream on Saturday by notching up a 92 per cent aggregate (644) in the Madhyamik examination.
Her scores are 99 in mathematics, 85 in Bengali, 90 in English, 92 in physical science, 94 in life science, 93 in geography and 91 in history.

Subrita’s mother Sabita is an Anganwadi worker with a monthly salary of Rs 4,300. Her father, a science graduate, is currently unemployed. The Bhandarys live in two cubbyholes carved out of a small room. Power cuts are frequent in Nalua and the heat of summer almost unbearable inside that tiny home with an asbestos roof.
But nothing seems to deter Subrita, so much so that even her mother finds it baffling that a teenager could be so focused.

“She has no fancies. She has never asked for one single thing from me except books,” said Sabita, who does tailoring jobs in the evening to supplement her income. 
Subrita learnt early that the only way she could change a life of hardship was by working hard for a better future. “Complaining about my problems will not solve them; so what’s the point?” she said of her philosophy of not being fazed by anything.
But mother Sabita does worry about the road ahead. “My daughter has high aspirations and I do not know for how long I will be able to support her studies financially.” 
For Subrita, who puts in around 10 hours of study a day, the Madhyamik result is not just the fruit of perseverance against odds but also an incentive to continue challenging herself and her circumstances.
Her alma mater, Krishnachandrapur High School, could not be prouder.
 “She had represented Bengal in the National Children’s Science Congress when she was in Class VIII and her ambition of becoming a scientist stems from that experience. She has excelled not only in academics, but is also very good in activities like singing, dancing and story-telling,” said headmaster Chandan Maity
Puja Mandal 
Kalyani Bidhan Chandra Memorial Government High School
Her father is a guard at a furniture factory, where he works overtime so his children do not have to give up studies.
Bipul Mandal’s hardship has paid off as daughter Puja has notched up 74 per cent marks — 519 — in Madhyamik. His scores are: 71 in Bengali, 53 in English, 80 in math, 66 in physical science, 92 in life science, 82 in history and 75 in geography.

“We live in a single-room house, where Puja studies in a corner. I am proud of her achievement,” said Bipul, who has a son and another daughter.
The house has power connection but the fan does not work. “It conked out several months back. We don’t have money to get it repaired,” Bipul said. His wife does sewing at home to contribute to the family income, which is less than Rs 5,000 a month.
Iti Chakrabarty, a teacher of Kalyani Bidhan Chandra Memorial Government High School, said they helped Puja with books and even taught her after school as she could not afford private tuition. 
“She has made us proud. Her performance is spectacular, especially if you consider the hardship she is going through,” Chakrabarty said.
Puja wants to study humanities — her father’s preference is science, though — and become a teacher.
“It feels great that I have been able to make father happy. He works day in and day out to stand by me,” the 17-year-old said.

Asked whether he was worried about arranging funds for his daughter’s education, Bipul said: “I will do whatever it takes to ensure her dreams are fulfilled.”
Soumyadeep Roy
Jodhpur Park Boys School
The tiled house in Jodhpur Park erupted in joy when Soumyadeep Roy learnt that he had scored 595 (85 per cent).
Father Saibal Ray earns a living running a stall in one of the two rooms of the house, opposite Nava Nalanda Primary School. Saibal opened the stall, which sells exercise books and other stationery items, after he had lost his job at a private firm.

Wife Aparna contributes to the family income of Rs 5,000 by stitching fall on saris.  
“My husband is suffering from a liver disease. A part of the income from the stall is spent on buying medicines for him. I have to supplement the family income to ensure that our two sons are not forced to give up studies,” said Aparna. 
The mother had appealed to the school to waive off the monthly fee of Rs 100 for both sons under the compulsory literacy programme.

“Our teachers give them tuition beyond school hours. We also help them with books,” headmaster Gopal Nandy said.
Soumyadeep has scored 81 in Bengali, 90 in English, 85 in math, 83 in physical science, 80 in life science, 83 in history and 93 in geography. He wants to pursue science at the Plus-II level. 

The headmaster said the school would waive 50 per cent of the admission fees of Soumyadeep.
Anirban Maiti 
Krishnachandrapur High School 
For the 16-year-old, holidays are meant for helping his father in the field through the day. The nights are, of course, reserved for study. Anirban cannot afford to compromise on either — one is the source of his family’s livelihood and the other takes him closer to realising his dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer.
A first generation learner — his father studied till Class II and his mother has never been to school — Anirban has scored 533 (76.14 per cent) in Madhyamik. His marks are: 71 in Bengali, 64 in English, 73 in math, 75 in physical science, 90 in life science, 80 in history and 80 in geography.
The resident of Pindrui village in West Midnapore would have given up studies in Class VIII had the headmaster of Krishnachandrapur High School in Mathurapur not extended a helping hand. “He was a good student but the family lacked enough money to let him continue in school. We then brought him to our hostel,” said headmaster Chandan Maiti. 
“I am fortunate that I am able to continue with my education. I need to make full use of the opportunity,” said Anirban, who wants to study 
science. 

Reporting by Subhankar Chowdhury and Jhinuk Mazumdar

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