Sharif Abdul Samad Khan, an auto driver from Mulund, Mumbai, is setting an example for others who give up hope on their dreams. The 41-year-old is readying himself to appear for the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination this month after dropping out of school 25 years ago. He dropped out of school and decided to work at a very young age due to the financial circumstances of his family.
Taking stock of their financial situation, Sharif decided to let go of his education dreams and accompany his father, who used to sell pav. He had six other siblings, and he wanted to earn to help his family with their finances. His family was from Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. Elaborating on his circumstances, Sharif told Mumbai Mirror,
Sometime in 1991-92, I dropped out from a BMC-run school in Mulund. The situation was not good for us in the city, as we all know. Riots had not directly affected us with violence, but our family income had dropped sharply. I had to help my father financially. After that, I never thought that I would get to touch textbooks again. Earning money and managing family was my task.
Sharif is now a father of five children, and has always ensured that they attend school and finish their education. Having gone through tough times himself, which led to him discontinuing his education, he wanted to make sure that his children did not have to make those same compromises. One of his children, Rukhsar, is about to appear for the ongoing HSC (Class XII) examination herself. While in a conversation with Mumbai Mirror, he said,
I have five children — four daughters who study in Hindi-medium schools and a son, who is in standard II in an English-medium school. One of my daughters, Rukhsar, is appearing for her Class XII boards, and she, along with the rest, encouraged me to complete my education.
Life, though, is full of hardships even now for this man. He lives in a small room at a chawl and works about eight to nine hours every day in heat and dust to ensure that there is a roof over his children's heads. However, the immense support from his family, especially his children, has encouraged him to take the Class X examination conducted by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education as an external candidate. Rukhsar has decided to help her father personally with his preparation once her own exams are over.
This story is inspirational for all of us as it demonstrates that it is never too late to chase your dreams, and as Sharif himself told Mumbai Mirror,
Padhane ki koi seema nahi hoti (There is no limit if you want to learn).