With just 2 per cent vision in both her eyes, Aditi Shah did not let her impairment come in the way. She scored 91.5 per cent in Maharashtra's HSC (Class 12, junior college) exams.
"I was expecting to score below 90 per cent. But when I heard I scored close to 92 per cent, I didn't know how to react," an elated Aditi said.
Born sighted, Aditi was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a disease which results in progressive loss of vision, when she was 10.
"According to our doctor, this disease usually hits people after they have crossed 60 years. Why it happened to my daughter is still a mystery," said Kamlesh, Aditi's father.
After she started losing her vision, Aditi shifted to enlarged font books. She started wearing glasses with a magnifier in order to adjust to the loss of vision.
But one day, she could hardly see anything. That is when she felt it was the end of her world.
"But I did not lose hope. I was lucky my father hired Nikita Rane, 19, who came to me every day and read out my lessons. She also recorded lessons on an audio tape so that I could listen to them in her absence," Aditi said.
Nikita, on the other hand, attributes Aditi's good performance to the clarity with which she can grasp concepts.
"I have never met someone as strong as Aditi. Her zeal for life and her zest for studies can hardly be seconded," Nikita said.
Staying in north-west Mumbai's suburb of Kandivli, 17-year-old Aditi studied the commerce stream from N L College, Malad.
"I did want to take up the science stream after I passed Class 10, but I was low on confidence and thought it would be too difficult to cope with the practical sessions. But I am planning to change to science as I want to become a software developer," she said.
She has set her target to pursue a BSc (IT). "I had opted for IT Maths as one of the subjects in HSC that will help me in securing admission in BSc IT," Aditi said.
Aditi is no stranger to high scores. Two years ago when she scored 92 per cent in her Class 10 exams, she was felicitated by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal at the National Association for the Blind.
An emotional Aditi is grateful to her mother Amita, brother Meet and uncle Prakash Shah for their support, encouragement and help. "I cannot thank them enough... They were with me at every step," she said.
She appreciated the help and support from even her classmates and the college management. "Whenever something was written on the blackboard, my classmates read it out to me and that's how I have learnt and grown," she added.
Aditi is also happy to have got a good writer like Prachi Goradia, 16, who wrote all her papers as she dictated them to her in the examination hall.