HSC heroes! Nothing can stop them from writing the exams

Feb 22, 2014, 08:43 IST | Richa Pinto and Kranti Vibhute

A boy in the last stage of cancer, a father who carries his daughter to the exam centre in his arms every day -- these are two of the most poignant stories to emerge from exam centres in Mumbai

While it is a common cliché that noone can share a child’s burden as willingly and lovingly as a parent, 48-year-old Murugan Yadav is an embodiment of this spirit of support.

Newspaper vendor Murugan Yadav carries his daughter Mahalakshmi, who is suffering from muscular dystrophy, to the exam centre every day
Newspaper vendor Murugan Yadav carries his daughter Mahalakshmi, who is suffering from muscular dystrophy, to the exam centre every day

The newspaper vendor in Navi Mumbai carries his teenage daughter Mahalakshmi in his arms every day to her exam centre, so she can write her paper. His daughter Mahalakshmi (17), who suffers from muscular dystrophy, has been immobile from the tender age of seven.

On each exam day, Murugan will be nearing his daughter in his arms right up to the exam hall, seat her there, and then leave. Once she is seated in the hall and starts writing her paper, Mahalakshmi easily blends in with the other students in her batch.

Murugan has made some changes to the carrier of his bicycle, so that Mahalakshmi can set herself comfortably while riding pillion, to reach her classes and exam halls
Murugan has made some changes to the carrier of his bicycle, so that Mahalakshmi can set herself comfortably while riding pillion, to reach her classes and exam halls

A commerce student from St Mary’s School in Vashi, she takes a ride on her father’s bicycle to her exam centre at R F Naik Junior College in Koparkhairane, seated on a special carrier installed in his bicycle for her. Speaking to MiD DAY, Mahalakshmi said, “If I am able to study today, it’s only because of my parents, and especially my father. He has always carried me to places in his arms, taking me to school, and now to college.

He will adjust his schedule according to my college timings, and make it a point to be on time, whether it is to pick me up or drop me somewhere. The school authorities also make it a point to make things convenient for me. If there is a change of classroom for a lecture, they try to make some adjustments and sit in the same class, as I am unable to move about.”

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Tough gets going
Mahalakshmi’s parents say that she was born without any physical defects. But as she started growing, they noticed that she could only move about and do everything very slowly. “Then her right leg turned abruptly, and we visited several doctors. After a point, she became immobile.

We were informed that she suffers from muscular dystrophy. Although we felt disheartened, we decided to take things in our stride. Since then, I have been carrying my daughter to school every day in my arms. She cannot move at all if I am not around. However, once she is placed in one particular spot, she manages to do all things by herself.”

The proud father added, “We do not need to put pressure on her to study; she has always been a very bright student. I want to educate her as much as she wants. Despite having taken no coaching, she is faring so well that I am very proud of her.

My bicycle seat is reversed, to take her wherever she wants. She makes an effort to do things independently as much as possible, which is wonderful,” said Murugan, who is a newspaper vendor supplying papers to around 1,000 homes in Sectors 2, 3, 4 of Vashi every dawn. Mahalakshmi wants to become an IAS officer one day, if her health condition allows her to study.

Cancer-stricken teen finds comfort in textbooks, exams

While many youngsters his age would give anything to take a breather from their books and the burden of exams, 19-year-old Yash Mehta has been poring over his books for the past few months, even while parents and relatives fret over his frail health and urge him to take things easy.

19-year-old Yash Mehta (in white), a metastatic lung cancer patient, finds solace in education and exams. Seven days before his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination in January 2010, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumour
19-year-old Yash Mehta (in white), a metastatic lung cancer patient, finds solace in education and exams. Seven days before his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination in January 2010, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumour

The teenager is preparing for his Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams, even as he wages a battle against metastatic lung cancer - a battle that he knows he is losing.

Yash, a resident of Borivli, is an HSC student of commerce in Borivli Education Society’s Sheth Gopalji Hemraj High School at Borivli (East). Seven days before his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination in January 2010, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumour.

Doctors suggested immediate surgery. Chemotherapy meant that Yash could not appear for his SSC board exam that year. He mentally prepared himself to appear for the exams the next year, in 2011. Unfortunately, the exam that year was based on a new syllabus.

Yash said, “I scored 89 per cent in my SSC preliminary exam. I was confident that I could score better in my board exam. It disappointed me that I would not be able to give my board exams.

Later, when I recovered, I decided to appear for the boards again in 2011. Unfortunately, the new syllabus has come into effect by then, and so I could only manage to score 62 per cent in the SSC exam. My school has supported me a lot in getting concessions to write the HSC exam.”

Fate dealt Yash a cruel blow, in October 2012, when he was diagnosed with metastatic tumours. Doctors performed a microscopic operation. In April 2013, he was diagnosed yet again with two metastatic lung tumours. Two cycles of chemotherapy were administered, and a surgery was performed in August 2013 at Jaslok hospital.

As cycles of chemotherapy followed, Yash suffered, even slipping into a coma on several occasions. Three more tumours appeared, one near his liver. Yash said that doctors have now told him nothing can be done.

With hope fading fast, the plucky youngster finds solace in his textbooks. “I am not undergoing chemotherapy any longer, as the doctors have lost hope. I was getting depressed, sitting in my room.

I decided to focus on my studies and appear for my exam,” he said. Yash appeared for his English exam yesterday. The exam hours stretched from 11 am to 2 pm, but thanks to concession given to ailing students by the board, he got extra time, and was allowed to write his exam till 3 pm.

Yash said, “It is difficult for me to sit for long stretches at a time, but I sat today for almost four hours to write my exam. I try to study as much as I can. Because I cannot sit for so long, I study on the bed, lying back and holding the book before me.

One of my sisters, who still lives with us, helps me, reading to me when I am tired. My right side has weakened, because of the cancer. The cancerous tumour is on the right side of the lung, and it was operated upon. Luckily, I am a leftie, and so was able to write my exam with my left hand.”

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