Finally a pen to write, not sell - Habra boy's journey from train hawker to medical student
first time Subodh Biswas took out his pen to jot down a note in his
medical college classroom, his mind wandered to a train compartment
where he once sold pens for a living.
"It's so difficult putting
the past behind. As I sat down for my first MBBS class (on August 2), I
had to keep reminding myself that it was for real," recounted the Habra
resident, who earned a scholarship to finally take admission this year
after thrice clearing an entrance exam that many fail to crack even in
At 26, Subodh's late entry into MBBS makes him
around eight years older than most other freshers at Burdwan Medical
College. The age factor doesn't bother him.
"I have spent all my
life struggling to survive. I started going to school much later than
students my age'I have since done everything from selling pens on trains
and buses to toiling at a construction site in Delhi for Rs 80 a day.
Now I need to make the most of the opportunity I have been given instead
of worrying about these things," he told Metro.
lifeline was Udayer Pathe, a scholarship programme sponsored by
Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, off the
"The programme has been reformatted this year to cover
the basic financial needs of 12 poor but meritorious students. We will
support Subodh's basic financial requirements for the next five years,"
said cardiac surgeon Kunal Sarkar, the vice-president of the institute.
Subodh, this is the first time that he won't have to work to study. "I
lost my parents early and was brought up by my elder brother Sukhlal,
who is a carpenter. But his monthly income is Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000, with
which he cannot feed his family, leave alone educate me. So I had to
fend for myself," he reminisced.
Sukhlal supported Subodh's studies till 2003, when he passed Madhyamik
from Baugachi Kashibala Vidyapith in Habra with a 71 per cent aggregate.
But once the elder sibling got married, Subodh was on his own.
I decided to continue my studies, come what may. A neighbour introduced
me to a wholesaler of pens and I started hawking these on local trains
and buses even as I continued studying," he said.
For four years,
Subodh was a regular on local trains on the Sealdah-Bongaon section and
buses headed for Calcutta, earning Rs 100-150 a day. "I would step out
of home at 7am and return at 9pm, after which I would study. It was a
hard life but I persevered because I had a dream to fulfil," he smiled.
passing the Higher Secondary exam in 2005 from Rajbullavpur High School
in Machlandapur with 61 per cent, Subodh decided to take the Joint
Entrance Examination with the support of some neighbours and free
lessons from a private tutor.
"I cracked the test and was ranked
77 in the merit list but poverty prevented me from taking admission in
the dental college in north Bengal where I was offered a seat," he said.
passed the Joint Entrance Exam for the second time two years later and
was offered a seat at North Bengal Medical College, but he again failed
to arrange the admission fees. "I was so frustrated that I thought of
giving up my dream," he recounted.
So how did he motivate himself all over again? "I went to Delhi the next
year as a construction worker but returned after six months for one
last attempt. I took up a job in an Ayurvedic medicine store in Habra
and started studying for the exam," he said.
After clearing the
entrance exam for the third time, Subodh was again at a loss how to
arrange for the money required to take admission when the Bypass
institute stepped in.
"The scholarship covered my admission fee
but I also took a loan of Rs 3,000. A few individuals helped me,
including seniors who gave me books," he said.
Barely a fortnight
into his MBBS course, Subodh has regained not only his confidence but
also hope for the future. Classmate Abu Raihan, 18, said he admired and
looked up to Subodh for "everything he has done to reach this far".
where does Subodh see himself five years from now? "I can't think that
far ahead, not after what I have been through. But, yes, I know my dream
is now within reach," he smiled.
Wishing him all the success in life....