CHENNAI: Unlike others, 17-year-old Balasubramanian doesn’t want a seat in a Coimbatore government college even if it is mechanical engineering. For he has his eyes set on the coveted IAS!
In fact, he doesn’t even know why he prefers mechanical. “I will opt for a college just about anywhere. If I don’t get mechanical, then I will choose EEE,” he said.
For this boy, hailing Vadasenjipatti, a nondescript village near Attur in Salem, escaping the clutches of poverty was the only thought running in his mind. He could not wait to graduate, land a job and earn money so as to take some weight off of his woodcutter mother Mariamma’s (45) head.
Bala’s father is bed-ridden for the last three years. The father-mother duo used to cut firewood from the forest and earned whatever they could by doing odd jobs until the father was injured in an accident and suffered nerve injuries.
In his village, where only four STC buses pass through a day, surviving on mere Rs 150 per day was tough. So, the boy had to chip in after school time. But, getting into a government college would still require them to pay Rs 40,000 per year towards tuition. “We will get a loan and if that money is not enough,” said Mariamma.
A a first generation college-goer, Bala comes from Tamil medium. But, he hopes to adapt to English medium though it might be tough
On another end of the counselling queue, M Nallasamy (57), a farmhand was waiting for his only daughter, N Divya, to tell him if she had got her favourite course at the favourite college.
“She was saying some BCG college in Coimbatore, meaning PSG College. He couldn’t quite get his head around the counselling madness.
Hailing from Naga Deva Malai B village in interior Gobichettipalayam, Nallasamy was visiting Chennai for the first time in his life. “We have no buses back home,” he said. “We have to walk four miles into the town to catch a bus. There is a school where you can study until Class 5 but even that is a mile away from our house.” Divya studied in that school before joining a Tamil medium school in Gobi town.
Nallasamy rued that last year that he made very little because the plantation farm he worked on, was destroyed by heavy wind. But, he is firm on educating his daughter and is willing to take as much debt as he could towards her education.
By then, Divya walks up to her father and says, “Coimbatore GCT college, EEE appa.” Nallasamy’s reaction showed he didn’t understand what she said. But he embraced his daughter because it must be good news. She was smiling, after all.