Smriti Banik, a 38-year-old housewife from Bishalgarh, which is about 30 km from Tripura capital Agartala, has fulfilled her two decades old dream by clearing the Madhyamik (secondary) examination. She has passed year's secondary examination along with her teenage daughter Sagarika.
She scored 255 out of 700 marks while her daughter scored 238. Both were enrolled in the Purba Laxmibill Higher Secondary School.
They had been preparing for the examination for weeks. They studied together, often through the nights. Smriti, who supplements the meagre family income by running a tea stall, took some time off every day from the routine and household chores to study. Smriti’s husband Jiban is a vegetable seller.
It was not easy, but Smriti was clear in her mind: there is no alternative but to pass the examination. "When I was three years old, my father died. We were four sisters. My mother had to struggle through poverty and worked at the homes of our neighbours," Smriti said. "Despite my keenness, I had to drop out of the school when I got married in 1996 at the age of 18," she added.
"For the past 20 years, I wanted to take the Madhyamik examination, but poverty came in the way," she said. Smriti's husband, daughter Sagarika and their neighbours encouraged her to shrug off all hesitation and take the examination.
"Even though the syllabus has changed since I stopped my studies 20 years ago, I managed to prepare myself with my daughter's help," Smriti said.
She now plans to get herself admitted in Class 11 at the Purba Laxmibill Higher Secondary School and become at least a graduate. Her long-term ambition is to be a post-graduate, but she mainly wants to help her daughter clear the post-graduation.
But Smriti is not the only one in Tripura.
This year, three other mothers -- Rubi Ghosh, Purnima Das and Sanchita Datta -- have also cleared the board examination along with their son and daughters.
Thirty-five-year-old Rubi, who belongs to Kamalpur in northern Tripura, passed the Madhyamik along with her son Biprajit.
"When I was a student of Class 9, my father arranged my marriage and I had to discontinue my education. For the last 20 years I carried this dream and now it is has been fulfilled," Rubi said.
Similarly, 38-year-old Purnima passed the Madhyamik examination along with her daughter Mananjita from Badharghat Higher Secondary School near Agartala.
Joining the list is 32-year-old Sanchita. Wife of a mason, Sanchita cleared the Madhyamik along with her daughter Munmoon from the Surjyamani Nagar Higher Secondary School on the outskirts of Agartala city.
While Sanchita scored 258 out of 700 marks, Munmoon got 490, with 82 marks in Mathematics.
Tripura Board of Secondary Education President Mihir Deb said every year some matured, elderly men and women take the Madhyamik examination. "It's not that they take the examination to find a government job... but to realise their unfulfilled dreams. It's surely heartening," Deb said.
The Madhyamik examination was conducted by the Tripura Board of Secondary Education in March, and results were declared in early June.