CHENNAI: S Abirami hailing from Konapattu near Pudukottai scored 366 out of 600 in her 12th class board examinations. While she may not have topped among her peers, what is extraordinary is the circumstances in which she scored these marks.
Just a month before exams, she got the news that her father working as a watchman in Malaysia suffered a heart stroke and fell off a building. He later succumbed to injuries. She could not even see him last because their family could not afford the money to fly down the body to India.
"I have three daughters and Abirami is the eldest. A couple of years ago, my husband left for Malaysia. He worked for a salary of Rs 15,000 and sent Rs 10,000 home for the expenses," said the 17-year-old's mother, S Menaka.
Remember the day they got the call about her husband, Menaka said, "His manager just informed us that he was in the hospital. I borrowed Rs 3 lakh for his treatment, but half of that money was illegally robbed from us by a person from Malaysia who claimed to be his friend. Despite all this, my husband did not survive."
The news shattered Abirami. The school authorities would call Menaka to tell her child was only crying in the school and unable to concentrate. What was worse is that they could not even see their father last, due to the financial difficulties.
However, amid all this Abirami managed to study for her exams. "Biology is my favorite subject and I aim to become a nurse because that is my father's dream. I want to reach out to all the rural areas in Pudukkottai and provide treatment to all the economically backward families like ours because I know the pain," she said.
However, her mom is now in a dilemma about her higher studies. "She was always the topper, so we thought she could get a free seat. My husband did not leave any money behind and I have three children. I work as a house help. We are very skeptical about sending her to study further," said Menaka.