Chennai: This is a story that is surely going to have an impact on you.
“She would say, ‘Appa (father), I want to become a doctor and build a hospital’. We would all laugh, but she would go on… say the hospital would be free of cost for all patients. She dreamt so much…,” pointed out Shanmugham, talking through his tears.
As huge gatherings poured in to pay their last respects to his “Paappa”, as the family fondly called their youngest and “brightest” member, Shanmugham remembers her as someone who lived for her dreams, while they lived “only for her”.
Coming to the incident, Shanmugham’s daughter S Anitha, 17, committed suicide at her home in Kulumur village in Tamil Nadu’s Ariyalur district, days after the Supreme Court turned down the Tamil Nadu government’s petition that sought a year’s exemption from the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to medical courses. Anitha was a petitioner in the case in the Supreme Court.
The significant factor here is that Anitha had scored 98% marks in Class 12 and, according to the state education department’s evaluation, scored 199.75 out of 200 for engineering and 196.75 for medicine, which would have ensured her a seat in either stream without NEET.
However,she only managed to score 86 out of 700 in NEET.
Arun Kumar, 21, the youngest of Anitha’s brothers and an engineering student in a private college in Trichy, says, “Paappa was the smartest in the family. She would study only for a brief while, but when the marks were out, she would have scored the maximum. She had answers for everything and her handwriting was so beautiful…. Unlike other girls her age, she never cared for clothes, makeup or new slippers, though we loved buying her clothes, slippers and bindis,” he says.
A visibly shattered Ratnam, who sat next to Anitha’s body in an open ground where it was kept for people to pay respects, says, “I don’t believe she is gone. She would crack jokes, roam around and fight with little kids in the neighbourhood. Even on Friday, she seemed normal – collected water in the morning, prepared rice and a curry.”
Fr. K Robert, who taught Anitha English in the village school, says the last time he met her was after her Plus 2 results, when she came with sweets. “How simple she was. I strongly believe that the false promises made by Central and state governments left her depressed,” he says.