In the new academic year, students of class 5 of the Upper Middle School in New Hruaikawn, Champai, Mizoram will have a new classmate. This classmate might be able to tell them tales about India’s first step into independence, and about its journey into 2018.
No, this classmate is not a well-read child prodigy. He is 73-year-old Lalringthara, the inspirational septuagenarian who wants to catch up on his studies that he left incomplete due to family restrictions.
Needless to say, Lalringthara is the oldest student in the school located on the Mizoram-Myanmar borders. But he is also the Church Chowkidar at New Hruaikawn. He recalls the circumstances that made him give up his formal education after class 2.
Speaking to The Times of India, he said that he had studied till class 2 in his native village, Khuangleng. His father had passed away when he was just two years old, so the responsibility of Lalringthara and his siblings naturally fell on their mother’s shoulders. When she remarried, their mother left him in the care of their distant relatives.
They did not support his education but made Lalringthara work in a rice field. He was thus obligated to drop out from school.
His short journey in formal education enabled him to read and write in his native language, Mizo. But Lalringthara wanted more–he wanted to learn English.
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Speaking to North East Today, he said, “I have no problem in reading or writing in the Mizo language. However, my desire for education has been flamed by my passion to learn the English language. Nowadays, every literature has some English words infused in them, which often confuses me, so I decided to go back to school to improve my knowledge especially in the English language.”
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This keen interest in the English language prompted him to take up schooling again. “Better late than never,” he told TOI.
The story of this determined septuagenarian spread beyond the village and reached the Indian Government. Impressed by his desire to learn, especially at his age, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Education for All Movement) has given him textbooks and a free uniform.
Although the freebies are no match for his zeal, one cannot but be impressed by him. He has shown us today that no age is too old, and that no interest is too little to get what you truly want.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)