Sunshine Story: From Malwani slums to medical college classroom

Updated: Sep 04, 2019, 08:03 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

The story of how Samad Ahmed, son of an auto driver and a tailor who barely make a few hundred rupees a day, cracked NEET

Samad Ahmed at home
Samad Ahmed at home

For 18-year-old Samad Ahmed, a cramped house in the slums and his father's meagre rickshaw driver's salary were never excuses to not do well at school. Today, this Malwani slum boy, a consistent topper at school, is studying to be a doctor at LTMG Medical College, Sion.

Samad's father Rafiq Ahmed, 47, is an auto driver and makes around Rs 300 a day, which is half that on days he is unable to ride. His mother Ruksana, 36, sews clothes during the festive season, earning a few hundred rupees, while his elder brother is a mechanic. But, this August 1 was celebration day for the family after Samad got his coveted seat in the first year MBBS at LTMG College. He had scored 617/ 720 in NEET, and was ranked 4,520 out of 14 lakh students who appeared from across the country this year.

In his doctor's coat at the LTMG College
In his doctor's coat at the LTMG College

Samad took a gap year last year after his NEET score of 467/720 gave him admission only to the dental course at Nair Dental College. His mentor Larzy Vargheese, former principal of St Mathew's High School and Junior College, where he did his schooling, had advised him to do so. Samad also credits his classmate, Shafique Ansari, 20, for setting him on the right path. "I was an average student who would score above 50 per cent, but ever since I started sharing a bench with Shafique, the class topper, I began to develop an interest in studies."

10x12 room called home
Home for Samad is a 10x12 room where he stays along with his parents and an older and younger brother. Children are constantly playing outside and noise from the furniture store across the house continues through the day. So, Samad stays back at his private tutorial class in Kandivli to study till late at night. He returns home around 10 pm and continues to study till 3am daily.

Samad with his mother Ruksana
Samad with his mother Ruksana

"I want to give my parents the best and want to inspire my younger sibling to study hard. They never complain when I have to keep the lights on all night. But, there is no other way for me to finish my medical studies," said Samad. "I always dreamed of either being a neuro-surgeon or a cardiologist. We have limited research in neurons, and the working of nerves has not been fully explored. I want to do more research in this filed," said Samad.

Fortunately for Samad, he has no money worries as his education is being sponsored by the SNS Charitable Trust that even takes care of his tuition classes. When Samad joined medical college, the trust even gave him six pairs of clothes. Today, Samad is a minor celebrity in his locality. Neighbours routinely come over to ask for advice on medical issues. "A neighbour's daughter who is pregnant came over a few days ago with the sonography test reports to check if the foetus was growing properly. I assured her that everything was," Samad said.

Shafique Ansari, Samad's classmate and inspiration, who is doing his second year MBBS at Jalgaon
Shafique Ansari, Samad's classmate and inspiration, who is doing his second year MBBS at Jalgaon

Samad's inspirational classmate, Shafique, 20, has got admission to the Government Medical College in Jalgaon. Shafique's father is a tailor in Samad's locality and his studies are being sponsored by Rotary Club of Queen's Necklace. The trusts had come forward to sponsor their higher studies after Shafique and Samad topped their school in Std 10, 95 and 94.5 per cent respectively. Speaking from Jalgaon Shafique said, "I want to be a cardiologist, a dream that I have had since childhood. I want to give poor patients the best cardiac treatment possible at affordable costs."

'Focus on NEET'
Both Samad and Shafique's advice to students from poor families is to never give up and to dare to dream big. Their advice for bright young students is, "Focus more on the NEET entrance examination, than HSC. NEET is the only gateway to a bright future." Narayan Iyer, CEO of Indian Development Foundation (IDF) who was instrumental in bringing the trusts and the talented boys together, said, "Both Samad and Shafique are an inspiration to students who come from poor socio-economic backgrounds. They never let poverty come in the way of their dreams."

Interestingly, Samad and Shafique are the highest qualified people in their respective families. The boys' mentor Larzy Varghese told mid-day, "These boys have made us proud by getting admission in medicine by scoring good marks in NEET. They deserve all the laurels in life, and our job is to help them in every possible way to be good and responsible citizens."

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