Prema Jayakumar’s name is as famous as that of any Hindi film star in Rosy Colony, a collection of asbestos-roofed tenements in Malad. Ever since news has broken that Prema, the daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver, has topped the All India Chartered Accountancy (CA) examination, the family has been sought out by the media, well-wishers and head hunters.
Prema’s mother greets the well-wishers at their 200 sq feet home, while her daughter, son Dhanaraj (who too cleared the CA examinations) and husband Jayakumar stay busy giving interviews to news channels or being felicitated.
The family has stopped taking phone calls. “So many calls are coming from unidentified numbers. We don’t know who they are,” says Dhanaraj.
“We have been getting job offers from many companies. But we are yet to decide what to take up. I will go for a job in the corporate sector,” he says. Prema says that she would prefer the banking sector. “There are many offers, but I have not finalised anything yet,” adds the 25-year old.
Prema and her brother studied in the neighbouring Tamil Municipal Secondary School right up to Class X. Her brother Dhanaraj says that they were initially intimidated while studying in English in college.
Fellow students teased them when they couldn’t understand the language. “We did not bother, but preferred to study instead and that paid off,” he says.
Prema’s success has come as a huge morale booster for the family, which barely makes ends meet. W hile Jayakumar, who migrated to Mumbai from Tamil Nadu, drove rickshaw for a living, his wife Lingaamma made belt buckles in a small factory as a daily wage worker.
Lingaamma says that she always knew Prema, her second daughter, was exceptional: “She always stood first in school. We started searching for a groom for her when she finished her graduation but she said she wanted to study more. We would like to get her married after a year or so.”
Prema’s teachers from school, who are visiting her at home, say they are proud of her. “DMK leader M. Karunanidhi congratulated her over phone and so did his son M.K. Stalin. They announced a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh for Prema,” says Anbu Selvi Nelson, the head teacher of Tamil Municipal Secondary School.
Prema says she wants to complete two months of article-ship and then explore the job offers coming her way. Marriage is on hold for now.
Both sister and brother want their father to stop driving the auto rickshaw and relax at home. “I doubt he will do that,” smiles Dhanaraj.
In faraway Rajapuri in Kolhapur district, Dhanashree Todkar too is hoping that she will be able to give some respite to her parents by building them a house, now that she has cleared the chartered accountancy examinations. Her family has been living in a slum, in a tenement with asbestos walls and roof for as long as she can remember.
25-year-old Dhanashree proudly says that she is the daughter of a tea seller, who is now unemployed. “My father ran a tea stall near the local hospital until two years ago when the district authorities said that the land where he sold tea belonged to the government. So he has been sitting at home ever since,” says Dhanashree, the youngest of six sisters. While Dhanashree’s five sisters are married, her only brother works in a CD shop. Dhanashree says that she has been offered a job by Coca-Cola and many other banking firms.
She says she wanted to study more after she scored well in her Class XII examinations. “Our Home Minister Satej Patil sponsored my education while I did my article-ship with my friend’s sister who is a chartered accountant. They used to give me a stipend which was sufficient to run my home as well.”
“I have been getting job offers from Pune, but I do not want to leave my parents and go anywhere. They have given me so much and now it’s my duty to thank them. The first thing I will do is build them a proper house,” she adds.