Sitting at his home in village Budhewal of Ludhiana, Zorawar Singh, 31, takes out a tattered yellowing sheet, neatly folded in a polythene bag, from his almirah. It is his class X marksheet from 2004. The result declares ‘re-appear’ in English (27/100 marks) and Mathematics (12/100).
“I never knew that I will need this marksheet again. Today I am realizing its value when I filled the form for Golden Chance exam,” says Zorawar, now an electrician making Rs 20,000 per month.
“I wasn’t such a dull student. God knows what happened in English and maths,” he laughs, showing the marksheet - 69 in Punjabi, 33 in Hindi, 40 in science and 51 in social science.
He never went for the “re-appear exams” and started working as a helper in factory for Rs 2,200 a month. “The circumstances at home were such. My father lost his vision and wasn’t earning. My brother also did not clear his class X and both parents being illiterate, no one really forced or encouraged me to study again,” says Zorawar, with wife Sanmeet (20), standing next to him.
She had cleared class X. “He too should study now. He should have class X certificate at least,” she says.
Depositing Rs 15,000 as exam fee, an amount which is three-fourth of his monthly income, “wasn’t easy” for Zorawar, who says he decided to take it out from his savings, because it was “necessary”.
“I did not get to know about Golden Chance offered in 2011 and missed it. This time, I did not want to,” he says. “I am an experienced electrician and can repair everything, from AC and fridge to television. But I am nothing on papers. I am not even dassvin pass. This is embarrassing. I am not even qualified to become a panchayat member,” says Zorawar.
“Maybe friends and others won’t say it directly but then it does come up whenever there is some discussion that I am not even 10th pass. It feels bad,” he says.
Zorawar is yet to buy books and start preparing for exam that will be held as per new syllabus. “Now there is nothing like writing an essay on ‘My Best Friend’ or ‘My Mother’. The grammar too is not easy. I did have a look at English syllabus but I haven’t yet seen the mathematics syllabus. It is going to be tough,” he laughs.
“Shayad koi tarakki hoje...har koi pehlan puchda dassvin hai ya nahi.. ehdian akkhan hun khulian ne (Maybe he gets a better job. The first question everyone asks is if he is 10th pass. The sense has been drilled into him now),” says his mother Balbir Kaur.
If he clears class X this time, Zorawar will be second in his family to do so, after his younger sister. “Now when I have applied, I need to finish it this time. I will,” he says.
Sitting next to him, Gagandeep Singh, his postgraduate friend with whom he consulted first before applying, says that he never wanted to discourage Zorawar knowing latest syllabus will be tough but not impossible. “Main keha bhar de, dekhi jaugi hun (I just told him to fill the form. We will see how it woks out).”