What will I do…?

Posted in Community, Education, Empowerment, Income Generation by udoit on June 28, 2011

Oscar Wilde’s quote – “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” – tells you to try your best no matter what, then rewards will follow. Marichelvam – a high school graduate – from an angler family in a small village located in southern (most) India proved that the above-mentioned quote is true not just a wit or sarcasm. His achievement in the 2011 statewide High school examinations and the manner that he achieved is unbelievable, breathtaking and above all it delivers the message “do not complain, stay focus”. In this post, we will see Mari alias Marichelvam’s achievement, the challenges he faced (is facing) and what it means to me.



During third week of May 2011, a bunch of Mari’s classmates came to his house, lifted him and screamed with joy “Mari you scored 490 out of 500 and you are the District first.” Why he did not go to see the statewide High school exam results? What is the reason behind the fact that he was busy with helping his mother to collect firewoods and turning them into coal? Mari’s father worked as a labor in fishing boats, and he wanted Mari to study well so despite his medical conditions (brain tumor), he insisted Mari to continue studies. Unfortunately, two months before Mari’s statewide high school exams, his father died because of brain tumor. When Mari decided to quit his studies to help his mother to win bread and take care of his elder sister, his mom advised him to continue studies. In addition, she sent Mari to his eldest sister’s house to stay and study with more focus. His eldest sister and her husband (brother-in-law) always helped Mari’s family in all regards and encouraged him to continue his studies. When two of his exams over and he was preparing for his Math exam, his eldest sister had heart attack and died on the way to the hospital. His brother-in-law, returned to home with his eldest sister’s body, told him “we will delay the funeral so you continue to prepare and finish the Math exam”. Mari spent the night besides his eldest sister’s body preparing to Math exam and he attended his eldest sister’s funeral after finishing the exam. When he came back from the funeral, he continued to prepare for the next day Science exam and then the following day he finished his social studies exam also. He scored 100 out of 100 in Math and 99 out of 100 in Science. I have no words to describe his achievements, scoring 100 and 99 in Math and Science respectively is an extraordinary achievement, but the manner that he achieved is an unheard event. In the history of humankind did anybody achieved this feat?

Mari's family

Mari with his sister and mother

Let us see the background and the challenges Mari faced (and continues to face) in his life. Mari lived in a small village located at a coastal district called Ramanathapuram district with one sister (two other sisters were married) and parents . His father worked as a labor in fishing boats that fished in Gulf of Mannar. Like Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Mannar is one of the most dangerous places due to Sri Lankan navy’s frequent and unjust attacks on Indian anglers. In addition to this hazardous working condition, his father also suffered from brain tumor, despite all these, he insisted Mari to study well. His eldest sister who was middle school topper like him could not able to continue her studies due to social and financial reasons. However, she and her husband supported his family financially. Unfortunately, Mari lost his father and the eldest sister before the exams. Mari also suffers with severe headaches for the past two years due to a heart condition, which can be cured by a surgery and the doctors advised him to wait for that surgery until he turns 21. Even though, everybody regards (including me) him as an achiever, he considers himself as a sinner because while everybody was grieving for his sister’s death, he was preparing for exams. He still cannot able to get over that fact and weeps frequently.

What I learn from his life, in other words what it means to me? Besides, it is breathtaking, unheard and unbelievable etc; it rises following questions. What I did so far in my life? What will I do when I face these kinds of challenges? Am I going to look at the stars like Mari? On the other hand, am I going to complain about the gutter’s filth and stinkingness? I am not sure, but I decided to stop complaining.

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