Bengaluru: Shalini has scored 84 percent in her 12th grade exam in Karnataka. Nothing unusual, except that the 17-year-old girl wrote the exam after working as a help in five houses.
In addition to studying for her exams, Shalini cleaned houses to add to her family’s income.
“I used to clean clothes, clean utensils and put rangolis (decorative motifs on the floor),” she told NDTV in fluent English. Her ambition is to become the first engineer in her family.
Shalini’s father Armugam was disabled in an accident and does not work anymore. Her mother Vijaya, the main bread earner, has to juggle her cleaning jobs with hospital duties. Shalini’s younger brother Surya has been diagnosed with blood cancer and is in hospital.
Shalini had no choice but to continue working while preparing for her exams.
Asked how she managed to get any studying done, the teenager says: “I woke up at 4:30 am, went to a house to put Rangoli, that was till 5:30, then I mopped and cleaned at another house till 7:30, then went to another house to wash clothes and clean utensils till 9, then I studied, had breakfast, went to another house to wash clothes, then another house to clean utensils, then studied at night.”