She might have topped Mizoram’s High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) exam this year, but that didn’t stop 16-year-old Lalrinnungi from participating in the one ritual she has followed every weekend in her young life so far.
On Thursday, May 2, Lalrinnungi, youngest of four to a couple who sells vegetables by a sidewalk in a Mizoram village, learned that she topped HSLC exam, among 17,000 students in Mizoram, by scoring 97.2 per cent. On Saturday, May 4, she was found sitting on a stool, helping her parents sell broccoli and beans by the road, like she would every weekend or day off from school.
This Saturday, however, was a little different. “People came up to me, congratulated me and clicked my photos. Some said this was the first step towards my future. Others asked me ‘Come join our school’,” says Lalrinnungi, giggling over the phone from Aizawl.
A student of the St Joseph Higher Secondary School, Aizawl, established in 2003 with classes IX to XII, Lalrinnungi scored 100 in her favourite subject, Science, 97 in Mathematics and Mizo, 98 in Social Sciences and — in her words — “poorest in English”. She scored 94.
“I want to do either medicine or join the Civil Services. Or maybe do both,” says Lalrinnungi, who has decided to take up Science stream.
“I have watched my parents struggle a lot. They inspire me to become someone else,” she says. Every since they got married in 1994, her father Zothanluanga (45) and mother Lalhlimpuii (41) have been supporting their four children by selling vegetables in the bazaar of the Sihphir’s Neihbawi village, located about 15 km from Aizawl
On Thursday after she saw her marks, Lalrinnungi started crying because she felt “so great”. “My parents told me not to be too proud of my position and to continue working hard,” she says. For her board exams, Lalrinnungi studied one hour in the morning (5:30 am to 6:30 am) and then later in the evening from 6pm onwards. “I would study till about midnight,” she says.
Her elder sister is currently in Class XII but her two elder brother could not complete their education and dropped out because of the family’s financial condition didn’t allow them to.
Lalrinnungi will continue studying at St Joseph Higher Secondary School, where she is a boarder. “The school is like my family,” she says. The authorities have announced that they will waive off her tuition and boarding fees for the next two academic terms. “Free hostel, free tuition, free everything,” says, C Laltlansanga, principal, St Joseph Higher Secondary School. “For Class 9 and 10, we had charged her family 20% of the fees taking into account their economic background. Now we will waive off everything.”