AFTER this year’s dismal Board results in Bihar, Ruby Rai was back in the news. To the horror of her family and her village, Hasi Malahi, in Vaishali district, the local media dug out footage of the 18-year-old who topped last year’s Class XII Arts stream citing ‘prodigal science’ as her choice of subject of further studies, to underline the state of Bihar’s education system.
The footage confirmed her family’s fears that they would never live down the scandal, says her lawyer K D Mishra. The family doesn’t allow Ruby, who has stayed most of last year confined to her home in Hasi Malahi, to meet anyone from the media, or even social activists and women’s groups. Her Class XII results had been cancelled after the scandal broke.
Child rights activist Suresh Kumar, who helped Ruby get bail after she was arrested on charges of fraud, on the grounds that she was a minor, says the teen feels she finds herself in this predicament as she couldn’t speak proper English. “She said that she knew that her wrong use of words had caused embarrassment to the entire state. That she meant to say political science in response to a question on her choice of subject after Class XII. ‘I want to learn how to speak English’, she told me.”
Kumar says that soon after coming out of the observation home where she was kept for 15 days, Ruby got enrolled in a spoken English course at Sarai, a small town near Hasi Malahi, and started subscribing to a Hindi and an English newspaper. She also started to practice writing neatly in Hindi and English.
Later, Kumar lost touch with Ruby. He says her family was not comfortable with the idea of counselling. Her grandfather Munshi Prasad Rai and father Awadhesh Rai, a retired Armyman who was also arrested on charges of fraud and conspiracy and is out on bail, continue to blame the media for the “social embarrassment” they faced.
Ruby’s lawyer Mishra says, “Her family is so paranoid, they did not give even me their correct phone number.” As a result, he adds, he couldn’t contact them on time for Ruby’s appearance before the Juvenile Justice Board in Patna once. She has to appear before the board again after charges have been framed in the case.
The Board has also sent a notice to the Patna Police’s Special Investigation Team on why they had arrested Ruby even though she was a minor.
Hasi Malahi village has no high school; the nearest one is 6 km away at Sarai. Ruby took her Class XII Board exam from VR College in Vaishali. Her elder sister Gudiya Kumari studied only till Class X, and elder brother Pankaj Kumar is doing graduation in Patna.
VR College principal Bachcha Rai was arrested for “producing maximum toppers and first division”, and the institution remains shut after its affiliation was cancelled. As for Ruby, no one knows when, and whether, she can take her Class XII exam again.