PUNE girl Muskan Abdulla Pathan, the national topper in the ICSE Class X exam, was so overcome with the news of her achievement that it took her close to 30 minutes to absorb the magnitude of it. The 15-year-old Hadapsar resident, who scored an impressive 99.4 per cent in the exam, said she scoured all possible websites to confirm that she, indeed, was the topper
“Till Class VIII, I wasn’t even among the top 10 in my school. In Class IX, I suddenly… became the school topper. It was then that I decided that I have to crack my Class X board exam with top scores, but even I couldn’t imagine that I would secure the top-most rank in the country. When they told me…I thought, ‘how could it be’… I didn’t believe it till the school directly called me,” said the elated teenager. An aspiring medical student — Muskan’s mother Shakira Pathan is a doctor and father Abdulla Pathan is a software engineer — she has already enrolled in a tutorial to prepare for the NEET, which is two years away.
Her father, who had hoped that his daughter would follow in his footsteps, says he understands where her passion stems from, “We are a family of 14 doctors, including a gold medal recipient from Maharashtra. So, I guess it is natural that she wants to be a doctor too.” Muskan, a student of Hutchings School, scored 99 marks in English, 97 in Hindi, 99 in Social Studies, 100 in Maths, 99 in Science, and 100 in Commerce.
Though happy with her top-scorer status, Muskan says she had hoped for full marks in Social Studies, a subject she had studied in great detail. A swimmer and a badminton player, she says she didn’t give up her co-curricular activities and served as the discipline in-charge of her school, as well as a prefect in Class X. Muskan studied for about five to six hours every day, and her advice to students is that they should not put too much stress on themselves, and try to maintain a balance.
Meanwhile, her parents, who have been receiving congratulatory messages since the results were declared in the afternoon, say they didn’t expect this kind of success. “Being the all-India topper is something else… it’s a bit overwhelming and I don’t have words to describe how I feel,” says her mother Shakira. Muskan’s father Abdulla, who works in Mumbai, says he shuttled to Pune on weekends to spend time with his daughter. He even took leave during the Class X exam, so that he could stay at home and ensure that she didn’t lose precious time in getting to the exam centre — which was an hour’s travel away — or coming back home.
Recalling the result of the preliminary exam, held a few months before the Class X exam, Muskan says she barely scored above 60 in English and came third in class. Her performance in the subsequent ICSE exam only shows that anything is possible with determination, says Muskan. “My teachers, parents and grandmother are my biggest strengths, as they ensured that I didn’t lose a minute… Also, it was my resolve to make them proud… when my marks were low, I strengthened my resolve, rather than give up,” she says.