Swapna Roy never had any exam blues, as the problems she was dealing with were of a more pressing nature -- her father had fixed her marriage with a brick kiln labourer and told her to drop out of school three months before the Class 10 exams.
Now that the 16-year-old has scored 92% marks and topped her school in West Bengal's North Dinajpur district, her father Mahen Roy is relieved that the local administration did not let him marry his daughter off. "I can't believe what a mistake I was about to make by forcing her to drop out,” he says.
"One day, father just came to our hostel and took me home, saying I was to be married off to a labourer," Swapna recalls. Mahen and his wife, both brick kiln labourers, lived in severe poverty and could barely afford their two daughters' education. So, the sisters had been sent to study at Balurghat Girls High School which offered free hostel facility.
It was a battle for Swapna to avert the marriage after her father refused to relent. She turned to her teachers for help, who approached the block development officer Biswajit Sarkar against the underage girl being forced into marriage.
The BDO took immediate action, the marriage was cancelled and Mahen was offered financial help with his daughters' education and a loan to build a small house under the Gitanjali Awasan Project.
Swapna returned to school and went on to score 99% in mathematics, 100% in physical sciences, 97% in life sciences, 91% in history, 93% in geography, 76% in English and 92% in Bengali.
She wants to study humanities, attend university and become a teacher. "I know I am eligible to study science at any good school," she says. "But I'll not be able to buy the expensive books and lab items. So, I have decided to study arts at my school."