When 25-year-old Nirmal Mukundan topped his university two weeks ago, not many who congratulated him knew that it had not been an easy journey for him. Nirmal had been juggling between academics and his work, trying to do justice to both.
Nirmal graduated in Power Electronics from the Government College affiliated to Kannur University in Kerala, and was the university topper.
For the past two years, Nirmal would travel from his college in Kannur to his home town Mala in Thrissur every weekend, to go for carpentry work and earn a living so that he could support his parents.
Nirmal's father Mukundan, who was also a carpenter and the only earning member in the family, took ill a few years back. With no other choice left, his mother Sathi got herself a job as a laboratory technician. Sathi earnt Rs 200 a day, of which the majority would be spent for her husbandâ€™s treatment.
â€śAfter spending on his medicines, there won't be enough money to get kitchen provisions. Then I had to find a way to support my family and took to carpentry. My family has traditionally been involved in the work and it was something that I naturally picked up during childhood. Though I used to accompany my cousins for work during my school days and earn pocket money, I never considered taking up the job. Since the past two years, I have been going along with my relatives for the work,â€ť Nirmal told The News Minute.
But nobody in his college knew about his troubles then, until a few days ago when a regional media house told his story.
Nirmal has now joined Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Technical University to pursue research, with a scholarship. But he is cautious not to take all the credit for his academic excellence.
â€śI never did poorly in my studies, but research is not something that I aspired for. My Mtech research guide motivated me to take up research,â€ť he says.
Nirmal agrees that his success has indeed motivated many, but is upset over the unwanted sympathy that followed.
â€śEver since people came to know about it, I can sense sympathy in their words, which is the last thing I want. I have even de-activated my Facebook account because of this...I am proud of my achievement, but I do not want people to look at my family with sympathy,â€ť Nirmal says.