A year ago, Himanshu’s world came crashing down when he lost his father in an accident. With no other earning member in the family, his mother ran the household by singing in kirtans in their neighbourhood in Northeast Delhi’s Saboli village as Himanshu doubled down on his preparations for NEET. On Saturday, it was a dream-come-true moment for the teenager when he secured an MBBS seat at Delhi’s prestigious Maulana Azad Medical College in the first round of seat allotment of NEET UG-2023.
“I was in Class 11 when I found out about my father’s death. We found his body on the railway tracks near my house. Since then, it has just been my mother who is taking care of us,” says Himanshu, who is the middle child among three children. Short on money to join coaching, Himanshu relied on self-studies to attain an All India Rank of 12,101 and stood 270th in the Scheduled Caste category in this year’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), results for which were announced in June.
For Himanshu, clearing NEET is akin to realising his father’s dream. “He always encouraged me to take up medicine,” says the 19-year-old who goes by only one name.
Sharing his study routine, the alumnus of Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya said, “My day begins at 4 am when I take out my books and start my revision.” Pointing towards a corner of his room, he said, “I fixed this small lamp here so that I don’t disturb my sisters or mother while they are sleeping…sometimes, it gets difficult to study at home as our whole family lives in just two rooms. So, I go to the public library nearby,” says Himanshu, whose older sister is a commerce graduate and younger sibling, 8, is in primary school.
Right next to Himanshu’s bed is a wooden cupboard where family photos jostle for space with scribblings of equations and formulae. “After I attempt my test papers, I check my answers and write down the mistakes that I have made on this cupboard so that I remember them and make an active effort not to repeat them,” he shares with The Indian Express.
On how he managed to study amid the challenges at home and lack of coaching, he says, “I used to pay around Rs 700 to the library (in Meet Nagar) which provided me with all facilities like reading space, reading material, internet… I thought this was a better investment than spending lakhs on the coaching centres.”
The internet played a starring role in Himanshu’s self-study journey. “I used to do a lot of self-study through Youtube and telegram. I joined telegram groups where students from coaching centres shared their notes and lectures. I also borrowed books from friends who have taken a drop year to prepare for NEET,” he says.
For Himanshu’s mother Babita, who has studied only till Class 8, seeing her children educated has been the driving force in her life. “I started singing kirtans in jagrata parties during Navratri in my neighbourhood colonies. Whatever little I received, I spent it on my children,” says the 37-year-old who hails from Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr.
Himanshu’s next aim is to give his family a better life.
“Once I become a doctor, I will buy my mother a house and get my family out of Saboli village…I want to make my father’s dream come true.”