Published: 27th July 2019
I kept away from anything that would distract me from my goal: TN vendor's daughter who cracked NEET
Charumathi's had to take a loan of Rs 88,000 from three different money lenders in their neighbourhood to fund her dream
In 2015, floods washed away Charumathi's house situated on the banks of the Adyar River in Saidapet. She then moved with her family to a house provided by the government in Perumbakkam.
The house is all of 310 square feet, and Charumathi shares the space with her four sisters, one of whom has a baby. Sitting in a tiny room in the house occupied by seven other people, surrounded by cries of the baby, constant chatter of her sisters and a blaring TV set, Charumathi cracked the NEET this time and secured a seat in Pudukkotai government medical college.
"I took a year after Class-XII to prepare for NEET," she says. "I went for private coaching for five months, at an institute in Adyar. But I spent most of my time travelling between Adyar and Perumbakkam. So I discontinued and prepared from home for the next five months." Charumathi scored an impressive 370 in the test.
A student of the government school in Kelambakkam, Charumathi's father Janakiraman is a roadside fruit juice seller. On a good day, he earns around Rs 800. But Charumathi's passion to study hard made her family forget their financial troubles. Her five-month-long private coaching cost them over `1 lakh.
Her eldest sister Shankari took a Rs 88,000 loan from three different money lenders in their neighbourhood. Another Rs 20,000 came in the form of sponsorship from an NGO. "She is a very quiet girl. I used to feel guilty because we were her biggest distraction," says Shankari. "There are seven of us in this little house, there was no way we could give her a separate room to study."
Charumathi decided the best time for her to study was when the rest of her family was asleep. "She would wake up at odd hours and study. Anytime I wake up in the middle of the night, I would find her studying." Charumathi says she has kept away from movies, sports, and even friends all her life. "I kept away from anything that would distract me from my goal."
"I knew what I wanted to become since I was a child. I became a little unsure when NEET was introduced. But I was determined to give my best." The Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board has decided to recognise her feat and present her with a cash award.