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Trials That Became Achievements: A Medical Student’s True Story from Jaffna

There are books influenced by biographies and films inspired by true stories in the last century. Someone’s unforgettable experiences, trials, and tribulations lead to the search for the meaning of life. 

This is a true story of a medical student, whose life itself became a challenge. Encountering poverty, war, and losses, he secured an achievement in the Educational field.

This story was originally written in Tamil by Dileepamuthan & Kathir, and published on 09th May 2021 in Sanjeevy, the weekly edition of Uthayan, a Tamil Daily, based in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. 

Paarththeepan: less pronounce, peaceful nature, soft spoken words, a forced in smile expressing untold stories and sorrows.

A cross-section of his unbelievable life, surpassing film is presented for you here. 

M.B. Dhuvarahan

The results of the GCE (AL) were published a few weeks ago. All attention was drawn to the student from Jaffna who had secured the first place at the National level in the Mathematics stream. At the same time Baskaran Paarththeepan had secured the 1st place at the District level and the 34th place at the National level, sitting in the old syllabus in the Bio-Science stream. This achievement was not largely noticed by anyone.

Paarththeepan was born 1999 in at Urumpirai, Jaffna. He is the third child in the family. He has an elder brother, an elder sister and a younger brother. All four of them grew up with their mother.

Nostalgic Childhood Memories

Paarththeepan shared the sorrows of his tender ages with distress thus: “I don’t know much about things of my young ages.”

Paarththeepan started describing the displaced life by saying “we went to Vanni in 2005 and stayed at the Subash Colony in Akkarayan.

His education which started in Grade 1 at Urumpirai was continued at Kilinochchi Akkarayan Maha Vidyalayam.

The A9 road was closed in 2006 and the war situation came into being. While living in Kilinochchi they had given their elder sister in marriage. Mother looked after the elder brother, Paarththeepan and the younger brother.

“Elder brother dropped out from school and went for work due to the difficulties in the family. Mother sold ground nuts at the Akkarayan junction. We also go and help her in that. Mother cut and supplied fire wood to shops.” Paarththeepan explained the difficulties experienced in living a life gripped with poverty.

Although the poverty tortured them they lived a honest life. With the small income, the four lives preserved their existence drinking only gruel at times. When Paarththeepan was in grade 3 the final war shook them also. The displacement became a load on them who sold ground nut for their livelihood. They moved as a family up to Mathalan.

When we were displacing our mother made and sold “Susium” ( a local sweet meat). She will make them and I will take them from house to house and sell them. Sometimes, I will get tired and sleep under the way side trees, described Paarththeepan, the suffering  he underwent  as a 9 years old.

The Mulliwaikkal war which destroyed everything, further destroyed the life of Paarththeepan. In a context where he had already lost his father, and his mother had become everything for this 9 years old child, the cruel war, plundered his mother before his own eyes. “We were at Mathalan at that time. It was April 16th. Our mother `went out of our tent to wash her face. A rifle round came from somewhere and hit my mother. My mother dropped dead on the spot.” with flowing eyes, Paarththeepan shared the grief that occurred in front of his own eyes.

9 years old Paarththeepan, his 14 years old elder brother and his younger brother had to encounter the war in their tender ages. After 4 days from their mother’s death, the Army rounded up the area and they came into the Army controlled area. He entered the Army controlled area along with his siblings  of his elder sister, elder brother, younger brother and his brother in law. However his trials had not come to an end. During the search operation of the Army, he lost all contacts with the remaining family members. He started living alone in the Arunachchalam Refugee camp. Luckily, a person who was living near there house saw the 10 years old Paarththeepan and took him to live with his family in the camp. Even amidst the tribulations of the refugee camp he never failed to get all the education that was possible in the camp. He sat for the Scholarship examination. In the midst of war losses and its pains he sat for the examination and scored 132 marks (Cut out marks 111).

The camp inmates were gradually released. Paarththeepan came along with the people he was staying with, to Jaffna and started living at Pandetharippu with them. For some time his education continued at the Kalaimakal School. They gave newspaper advertisement to find out his family members. That attempt bore fruit. Paarththeepan joined his family.

His sister’s husband was in detention camp. Now, his sister, her baby, elder brother, younger brother and Paarththeepan became one family. They started living at Puliyankoodal, Velanai , the native place of his brother in law as from 2010. He studied from grade 6 to GCE (O/L) at the Velanai Vishnurasa School. 

My elder sister used to do everything to us. Elder brother was doing labour work. My brother in law used to send some money from what he earned within the rehabilitation camp. He was released from the camp in 2013. Thereafter he started doing Contract work. My elder brother and I started assisting him in his works. Nobody was there to help us. We lived off the money we earned.” Amidst all the crises, Paarththeepan sat for the GCE (O/L)  and obtained good results of 6As, 2Bs and 1C.

In a context where he had to move to the Jaffna town for his A/L , he moved into Jaffna town to attend school and private tuition centres.

He joined the Kokkuvil Hindu College to study his Advanced Level. He had to start from home at 5.30 a.m. He was able to return home at around 7.30 p.m. he had to manage the whole day with only the tea he drinks in the morning. “60 rupees will be in hand for my travelling. Breakfast will consist only the tea I drink in the morning. At times I will get lunch at school. I will have a proper meal when I go home in the night. Whenever I get the time I will go for work with my brother in law. Not much time was available for studying. We used to go for work to distant places in Canters. Whenever we go like that, I used to study in the canter itself. My studies were limited to what I learn at the school and tuition centres. Because of this I could only get a result of A,B.C and District Rank was 192” , said Paarththeepan.

Struggling for Survival and the Thirst for Learning

Understanding Paarththeepan’s situation his tuition centre gave full assistance to him. In this context his brother in law gave permission to study for a second time. The same old situation prevailed while sitting for the second time. Time was only available for studying at the tuition centre. All other available time was spent in the labour work.  More work awaited him than during the first time. A compulsion to bear the economic burden was there. Enduring all that, he continued his studies. He secured A, 2B in the second time, but his District rank was 54 and the National rank was 972.

“They taught me free of charge at the tuition centre. They used to pay more attention on students studying free of charge. If my marks drop they will inquire about it. ‘Few days are left. Study first and then go for work. Don’t disturb in the middle’, they said. But I could not say this to home people. I continued to go for work. I could not secure a good results in the second time, because of this.”, he said.

Paarththeepan was working in the concrete brick making yard when the results came. The poverty situation of his family had de-railed his life beyond all limits.”

Paarththeepan was working in the concrete brick making yard when the results came. The poverty situation of his family had de-railed his life beyond all limits. No work – no life was his predicament. When he went to inform the results to the teachers who taught him freely at the tuition centre they advised him that he may not secure admission to the Medical faculty and to study for a third time. As they were aware of Paarththeepan’s situation, they arranged for him to stay at the tuition centre itself and study. Teachers’ rest room became his residence.

“ Kumaran sir, Kugan sir and Dious sir encouraged me to study for a third time. They asked me to stay at the centre and study. I stayed there. Meals were also provided by them. I was able to devote my time fully for the studies. I did not go to work, he said. As he paid all his attention on studies he was able to sit for the third time and secure an excellent result of 3A and the 1st place in District ranking and his National rank was 34.

While poverty and war losses tortured him misfortune also joined them to kick him.

As the results Paarththeepan obtained in the second sitting was not enough for admission, he prepared and was sitting for the third time. The cut out marks were released on the day on which English examination ended. He gained admission to Medical Faculty of the University of Jaffna. Although he had written the exam excellently in the third time, without wanting to waste the chance he had secured in the second time, he enters the Medical Faculty. Now he is an undergraduate at the Medical Faculty of the University of Jaffna. He would had been selected for the Colombo Medical Faculty on the results of the third time. Unfortunately he could not secure that chance.

Dreams, Achievements & Memories of Mother

Many may say many reasons for ideal of becoming a Doctor. But there is a strong logic in Paarththeepan’s reason. Peaceful nature… soft spoken words…a forced in smile … this is him. He answered the question, why he should become a doctor with his head lowered down.

 “I am unable to remember the Nursery school period. I also don’t inquire much as to how we grew up. I did not ask about it in the hope that my mother will be with us (tears well up in his eyes)

“I made a decision that I should become a Doctor while I was studying in Grade 5. We were not in possession of any document except our Birth certificates. It had been indicated in it that the birth place of my mother is Badulla. We know only that much about our mother. Earlier, she had said that she was abducted from there. We don’t know anything about the relations of our mother. Her birth place is Badulla. If I am to search any details only with this information, I had to start my search from the hospital. Instead of going to the hospital and requesting another doctor to search for it, I as well could do it if I become a doctor. That is why I decided to become a doctor while I was studying in Grade 5. I will become a doctor and search for the ancestry of my mother”, said Paarththeepan with a commitment in his voice.

“My native village taught me. I studied up to O/L at the J/Velanai West Nadarajar Vidyalayam. The Organization which operated with the contributions of people from abroad helped for my studies. I will become a doctor and serve the people of my village.” said Paarththeepan, declaring his future ideal. The name of his mother is Jamuna and her birth place is Badulla. He knew only that much information. His search continues. Not only about his life, but also, about his ancestry.

Acknowledgment:

  1. Uthayan-Sanjeevy Media Family, Dileep Amuthan
  2. V. F. Joseph (Translator of the article into English)

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