CHENNAI: No income, ill-health, and starvation — Gabriel Isabella had to fight multiple odds to score a solid 470 out of 600 in the Class 12 examinations. The 18-year-old Tiruchy girl’s father died when she was barely three months old. It was Isabella’s mother who raised her, working as a contract labourer for Rs 6,000 a month. A couple of years ago her mother took ill, and that income, too, stopped.
“I have seen many hardships since my childhood,” Isabella tells The New Indian Express. “We never had enough money to afford three meals a day. There came a situation when we thought I would have to discontinue my education after class 8. If not for a few good people who sponsored my education, that would have been the case.”
Day before the board exams, her mother would go without food so that her child could eat. Despite that, the teenager came down with stomach ulcers. “I was vomiting blood on the day of my Tamil exams. The doctor advised me to eat fruits, but I cannot remember the last time I tasted a fruit.”
The family borrowed some money so that Isabella could eat a piece of fruit during her exam days. But the health issues did not slow down Isabella. She studied eight hours a day. And, when the results came, her mother forgot all the hardships they were suffering.
“More than the marks itself, I was so happy that my mother made chicken biryani to celebrate. We had meat after five long months. I can never forget this moment,” she says with a giggle.
“I want to pursue a degree at the Holy Cross in Tiruchy, and become a bank manager some day.” As the proverb goes: It takes a village to raise a child. In Isabella’s case, her success is also the result of an entire community that supported her education. All those who love Isabella now think her marks could be a wormhole -- one that will transports her to a distant universe, away from the current hardships.