Vantage point

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bhelwaala in the Merit List

Another story from the Pune TOI. The incredible and inspiring story of Vaibhav Chidrewar, a bhelpuri vendor who stood 13th in the HSC Merit List -

Bhelwala by evening, merit holder by day
By Sujit Tambade & Suneet Bhave/TNN

Pune: His story could match that of a Bollywood flick. A poor boy who sells bhel to support his family and still secures a place in the higher secondary certificate (HSC) exam merit list, his life is the stuff films are made of.

But this is no fiction. It is the real life story of Vaibhav Chidrewar, who had also found a place in the SSC (std. X) merit list despite severe odds.

Vaibhav’s father, Avinash, left home a few years ago after suffering a setback in business, forcing his mother to sell bhel on a handcart. Vaibhav, a student of Abasaheb Garware college, used to help her in the evening hours and despite the hardships, secured 13th rank in the HSC merit list (93 per cent marks) this year. However, the future still looks uncertain as he has no money for higher education.

Living in a small flat at Dhankawdi with his mother and younger brother, securing a place in the HSC merit list did not come as a surprise to him. He had secured 19th rank in the SSC merit list two years ago.

“Now I don’t know what career option to choose. I don’t know whether to go for chemical engineering or electrical engineering. Raising money for higher education is my major concern,” he told TOI.

While talking about his future plans, Vaibhav explains, “I am not happy with my marks in the CET. If I don’t get admission in the College of engineering, Pune (COEP), I will have to consider private engineering colleges.”

His mother, Chhaya, is optimistic about her son’s future. “After his achievements in the SSC exam, we were not expecting him to secure a place in the merit list. But he has achieved it again through sheer hard work.” She said that if he went away from home for better opportunities, she would have no regrets.

Shubhada Mali, who runs a charitable institution called ‘Ishvastha’ with Parimal Chanchani and Pravin Kulkarni to help needy students, has been helping Vaibhav right from class nine. “We have conducted an aptitude test for him and the result shows that he is inclined towards electrical engineering. But, while studying, he also has to share the responsibility of his home, so we’ll help him choose the correct option,” she added.

There are more hurdles to cross. Vaibhav and his mother have to repay loans taken by his father for his business. During the all-important HSC year, the family was facing the danger of getting evicted from their home for failing to clear their liabilities. The danger still lurks.

Vaibhav had previously also figured in the SSC Merit List.

After this story appeared in Sakal, Pune's highest selling Marathi daily, and also on paper's website ESakal, readers from all over the city have offered financial help to foot his fees, and other expenses like books and conveyance. In fact Marathi readers abroad email-ed Sakal enquiring where they should send cheques.