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An uncommon strength, An undying inspiration…

May 12, 2009

The results for the Kerala State Board, Std XII, the regular HSE, and the VHSE, were announced today by the Education Minister, Shri M A Baby. It was around , perhaps, 11.30 am by the time he got to the nitty gritty, speaking of how it had gone down by about 4 percent, as against last year’s performance, and that there was only one child in the VHSE who secured A+ grades in all of his subjects. A rare distinction indeed. (The Kerala State Board gives only grades to the SSLC, the 10th Std, and both grades and marks to the 12th std. )Before you jump to conclusions, no, this is not about him πŸ™‚

Shri Baby also mentioned that the education department would look into and give special attention to those schools who have performed the worst, at least 4 schools, from the bottom of the list, and ensure that any shortcoming by way of academic or infrastructure requirements are attended to, so that the students may be brought up, on par.

While all this was inspiring, the atmosphere at home was a little tense, as we needed to know some childrens’ results and the websites just refused to open. Finally, after more than an hour, relentlessly hounding all the browsers I have, IE, Firefox, and Google Chrome, one window on Firefox [yayyy! I love firefox!] opened with the result longed for!

The name was right, Revathy Narayanan, Roll No. was right… And she drew in a deep breath, proceeding to the marklist. English, 59, C+, (a sigh, quiet, but heavy!), GFC -General Foundation Course- better 76, B+, MLT -Medical Lab. Technician course- Practicals, a whopping 140 out of 150, and 48 out of 50, A+ in both, Chemistry and Physics, 78, B+, and Biology was 67, B grade.

Oh! Ok. That is an average performance, given the fact that papers would have been easy, and of course the fact that tuitions galore should have enhanced the performance in at least the science subjects? That would be one’s normal reaction, in this day and age of competitive, fierce competitive examinations, and preparations!

But no, not this time. I sat back and looked at the screen, Revathy, chewing her nails, a bit unhappy, her mother not quite sure of how precisely the results had turned out; to say I felt proud of her at that moment was an understatement. Why so, you might ask, given this well, just above average performance?

Let me take you back a couple of years, for that. Revathy had just completed her 10th. Results time again. Grades only this time, and she managed A+ grades in most, with only an A grade, and a couple of B+ grades. So? Did she not perform less satisfactorily this time then? Absolutely not.

Let me explain. Revathy is the daughter, the elder daughter, of Chandrika who helps me at home (I do not like to mention domestic help, because for me she is and has always been, in these last 13 years, family :)). Chandrika works at our place, and two other houses, battling odds like opposition from her relatives, her husband who used to, till a few months ago, drink and abuse his family, and so called well-meaning neighbours who never forgot to take pot shots at her, esp. when she dressed well, and ensured her kids had education. Government schools, and travelling by public transport, but good education nonetheless. But, sadly no tuition. For she could not afford it. I did call Revathy, and told her to find a suitable place to go for tuitions in any subject, and that I would take care of it, but she simply said that it was Ok, and she would manage. She did. Awesomely!

So, you see, today, when she proved to me again, Revathy, ie, that believing in oneself, working towards an objective, no matter where you are, is the stuff inspiration is made of. She inspires. She shows me the way, as her mother has, several times, when I was down because of nastiness I have encountered here and there.

She shows me that impossible is really nothing. That being a girl, in an underprivileged background is nothing. That it is all there for the taking, only one has to reach out and take it with both hands. One has to want it, and one has to be it. And being a girl, who was supposed to be a domestic help like her mother had nothing to do with it.

Back to the moment of the results. As I had mentioned, she was unhappy about the C+, but I just glossed over it, congratulating her, and sending her off. A few minutes later her mother called to ask me to speak to her, as she felt she compared poorly, with her fellow classmates. What could I tell her?

So I asked her if anyone of them did not go for tuitions. The answer was No. All of them did.
Did they have a father who really was not bothered? No.
Did they have to learn each bit of their course, all on their own, with no outside help? No.

Then, I told her, my very dearest girl, why you’re the best there is. I told her how proud I was, much more that my own children, whose results anyway could have been way better! And I told her that finally it was all within. See, I said, how that wanting to do the best you could has brought you here? Low grades in English don’t mean a thing, it’s just a number, a letter.

And please, I told her, please, let us look upward, and ahead, because what has happened has… and nothing can change that! But a positive, and strong outlook ahead will make even miracles seem like child’s play! I thought I heard a tiny sigh at the other end. I hope it was one of relief πŸ™‚ I am sure though, that it must have been the fact that I was about to end the call, that made her sigh πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Whatever be that, I know that I am so so proud of this young girl, who defies fate, and shows us, that being the best you can be is not about gender or circumstance. It is about who you are, and want to be!

Thank you, Revathy, and thank you Chandrika. Now, you’re a wonderful mother, much more than you will ever know yourself to be πŸ™‚ And now you too are famous πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

God bless you, always πŸ™‚

Post Script: Chandrika’s younger child is a boy, who she wanted to have, so badly, because she faced endless jibes about having a daughter. The young man has just completed his 10th, a little rogue, is his mother’s worry , in caps.. :), but an affectionate chap who really means well. His grades too were above average, but nothing to match his sister’s performance in the 10th. But to have achieved that much is to his credit, though he did go for tuitions, in most subjects πŸ™‚

This is an impromptu post, really, and as usual I have rambled πŸ™‚

It’s been a day of much upliftment, and joy, all around!

12 May, 2009

[Written by Usha Pisharody]

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Smitha permalink
    May 12, 2009 7:01 pm

    Usha, This is so inspiring! This is so good to hear! Please do pass on my congrats to the dear girl! What she has achieved is truly inspiring! And congratulations to you too – for being there for her and giving her the right direction and encouragement! I am sure the family has got a lot of encouragement from you!

  2. Indian Home Maker permalink
    May 12, 2009 9:37 pm

    This is an inspiring story – and it isn’t even a story!! Amazing what can be achieved with some support… which I am sure you provided (seeing that the results were being checked at your place)

    Congratulations to them and also to you!!

  3. Solilo permalink
    May 13, 2009 4:30 am

    The first time when you told me about Revathy I was so proud of her as if I knew her personally yet when I read this piece I had goose bumps.

    Kudos to Revathy who achieved it without tuitions, most who are reading this must be unaware how tuitions are part and parcel of a student life in Kerala; children as young as 3 go for tuitions. It is not that parents are uneducated, it is the notion that everyone goes so my child should too.

    In this piece one line even though you didn’t mean to emphasize still important is Revathy’s younger brother getting tuitions and still not faring as good as her. Sadly! even the most literate state sees this gender inequality.

    Kudos again to Revathy and to you for being an inspiration!

  4. Arnav permalink
    May 13, 2009 7:13 am

    wow This really is inspiring..
    From the past 2 weeks am doing surveys of slums in Mumbai, and it is very very disheartening, feels good to know that people like Revathy are changing lifes…
    great post…

    keep smiling

  5. Usha Pisharody permalink
    May 13, 2009 8:09 am

    Smitha, this morning when her mother came in, I asked after her daughter, and she told me she was fine. Apparently an uncle had called the previous day, in the afternoon, and asked her why she did not get any more A+ grades, like she did in her 10th Std. What got my goat was that the same uncle had never bothered in any way to help out with anything in their lives, but was there to question her performance!

    Certainly, Smitha, such stories, being real are inspiration. Thank you for the wishes, which I have passed on, from all of you, and also for the kind words πŸ™‚

    IHM, actually most of her stuff, as far as forms, and things like that are concerned, which stream to take after 10th, were all done together, as both of them, mother and daughter were unsure, and felt I could help. For me, it is simply a benediction that I could be in some way of use to them πŸ™‚ Thanks for the wishes, and the words πŸ™‚

    Solilo, you’re certainly right about the tuitions part. Very young children even go out for tuitions! AS far as the young boy is concerned, he was almost forced to, for fear of not being able to pass at all. Right through all of this, you would not believe, but the father had little or no involvement. He would not even sometimes give money for fees or books 😦 Still, Chandrika says he has improved, now that the drinking has stopped, and there is peace in the house. Hopefully it will remain that way.
    Thank you for the way you empathise and the good words you gift πŸ™‚

    Arnav, I must come over to your blog to read in detail about the work you have been doing. Just took a peek now. Indeed, Revathy is a light that shines in conditions as those, where the future seems so bleak. Thank you for visiting and for the warm words!

  6. Indyeah permalink
    May 13, 2009 11:03 am

    Hats off Usha !!for you for Revathy and for her mother!
    what a daughter to have!and what a mother she has ….
    I am in awe…
    this is just so inspiring Ushus!words are falling short!
    most of all Ushus thank you for sharing this with us…we needed to hear this..needed to read believe that this indeed happens..that there ARE people who triumph against all odds..that these are not just stories of books…confined to pages…so
    thank you Ushus…

    God bless Revathy and her family πŸ™‚

  7. ramblingsbybones permalink
    May 13, 2009 11:55 am

    Very inspiring…I really admire people like Revathy and her mother…They are the kind of people our country needs…Thank you for sharing their story…

  8. Soumya permalink
    May 14, 2009 9:50 am

    Oh, a sweet little inspirational story this is under a lot of toiling she must have had to go through.

    Then the narration was so gripping that I had to read it from my office only hehe and not feel guilty.

    The initiative (of the blog and the concept to project Indian women) is going superbly I see.

    For a techie perspective: you people already have got a Google page rank 2 and coming in the first page of google blog search of ‘gender inequality’. Wayy to go.

    Best wishes.

  9. Sashu... permalink
    May 15, 2009 2:08 pm

    mema, this is such an inspiration πŸ™‚ congrats to revathy n her mother too!! n am glad they found someone like you πŸ™‚ love you all de more πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    wishing all d every best to revathy :for her sure it’s gonna be bright…she deserves it much moe than many f us do, i guess! πŸ™‚

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