Girl Scores In Exams While Working As A Maid In 5 Houses And Nursing Brother With Cancer

Her journey has been fraught with struggles early on. She has changed her medium of instruction thrice already — she started in a Tamil medium school, moved to Kannada, and then started learning in English just a couple of years back.

Cover image via Bangalore Mirror

Meet Shalini. Aged 17, she works as a domestic help in five houses in the Indian city of Bangalore, cleaning bathrooms, scrubbing utensils, and cooking while juggling between her studies and nursing her younger brother who is diagnosed with blood cancer.

What's more is that, during her time off, she tends to her sick father, who has been bed-ridden since she was seven years old, after he fell off a building. According to The Huff Post, while he has regained some movement now, he is still restricted to staying at home.

For years, her mother worked as a domestic help in several houses so she could provide for Shalini and her younger brother. But early this year, her brother was diagnosed with third stage blood cancer, dealing a serious blow to the already-strained family circumstances.

The responsibility came on young Shalini's shoulders to help her mother cope with the new setback. While the two divided time between Shalini's brother at hospital and her father at home — Shalini always with a book in her hands — she also had to take over all of her mother's part-time jobs.

"If I had not put in so much time in the hospital, I might have scored better," she told the Mirror. "But my brother is more important to me than marks."

Earlier this week, she scored 84.8 percent in the science stream in the second PUC (pre-university course) exams and dreams of bigger academic goals. Shalini is now preparing for the CET (Common Entrance Test), a competitive exam for admissions in medical, dental and engineering courses in professional colleges in India.

Her journey has been fraught with struggles early on. Shalini had studied in Tamil medium from class one to seven, when she was shifted to Kannada medium till tenth standard. She then shifted to English medium for her PU studies at SGPTA-Deeksha College. If coping with frequent changes in the medium was not daunting enough, there were bigger challenges on the home front too.

Explaining her impossible schedule, Shalini said:

"I wake up around 4.30 am. After finishing my household chores, I rush to five houses close by where my job is to sprinkle water and draw Rangoli (auspicious floor patterns)."

She's done by 6 am after which she rushes to an office where she mops the floors and cleans the bathrooms.

"The work ends by 7.30 am and then I head to another house to wash clothes. I am relatively free by 9 am and go home to prepare for CET. My study, coupled with my household chores, ends by 12.30 pm when it's time to step out again for two more jobs. I come back by 4.30 pm and have time till 6 pm to study."

After quickly squeezing in some studies, she is out for more work, returning only at night and once again poring into her books till midnight.

The remarkable teenager, who is nothing short of a fighter, said she is happy to support her family, and doesn't mind the hard work.

Image via The News Minute

The teenager credits her college officials with encouraging her to study. "She is a hardworking girl, friendly with everyone and attentive in nature. Despite her family's condition, she always has a smile on her face," Prathap Naidu, SGPTA PU College principal, Thyagarajnagar, said.

Shalini has no qualms about the hard work, saying she is happy to support her family.

Speaking to Mirror, Komala, a homemaker in Rajaji Nagar said, "Shalini has replaced her mum. We are also supporting and encouraging her in her endeavour."

The family stays in a small house shared with Shalini's mother Vijaya's brother and his wife. Vijaya only studied till Class 5 and her husband is illiterate. But she was perhaps her daughter's biggest inspiration.

Many say the real test of life is usually outside the examination hall. If that is the case, young Shalini is already a winner.


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