Six years ago, Kajol took a decision that changed his life. While working at the brick kiln on a humid and dusty day, the thirteen-year-old vowed to continue his studies and earn a degree.
December 5 was a very special day for him – after struggling with extreme poverty and battling to make ends meet all his life, Kajol, on this day, finally started his studies at the political science department in the University of Dhaka.
Talking to The Business Standard, the 19-year-old was reminiscing his troubled childhood battling with extreme poverty and hopelessness.
The first blow came when his father Ayub Ali died in 2005, leaving the five-year-old boy with his mother and two elder brothers. The family lived in a small village under Amaldanga upazila of Chuadanga district.
His mother enrolled him at Kumari Government Primary School in the upazila and in 2013 he passed Junior School Certificate from Hardi Mir Shamsuddin Ahmed High School.
That was when the second blow struck him. Kajol had to drop out of school owing to his extreme poverty. Both his brothers had got married and left him and their mother alone.
The financial crunch was so severe that Kajol had to go to work at a brick kiln for Tk200 per day.
However, his dreams to go to school and finish his education never faded.
The mother-son duo then saved some money and then bought a cow, a number of chicken and ducks.
In 2015, when he had made enough to pay for the uniform, books and school fees, Kajol started attending school again. He was working at the brick kiln simultaneously. He passed SSC exams with GPA 4.89 under science group.
He still kept working at the brick kiln to ensure that his college fees and other expenses are covered. His struggle paid off. He passed HSC in 2019 from Amaldanga Government Degree College with GPA 5.
However, when Kajol wanted to go to the university for an advanced degree, he was at a loss regarding where to get the money, since he failed to save much? He did not even have any money to enrol at the admission coaching centres. So he sold their cow for Tk44,000 to support his preparation for enrolling into a university.
Then began another struggle. Kajol contacted his acquaintance Hasan, a student of the University of Rajshahi and moved in with him. He lived in one of the residential halls of the university and attended classes at a local coaching centre to prepare for his admission.
Four months into his preparation, Kajol already spent around Tk26,000. Though he had applied to a number of universities, he knew that he would soon be in trouble, since his cash was running low.
As the intake exams were over and the results came out, Kajol found out that he obtained 39th position in the A Unit at the University of Rajshahi, the 469th position in Kha Unit at the University of Dhaka. With the latter institution, Kajol scored enough marks to secure his admission at the political science department.
Talking to The Business Standard Kajol said, "I always dreamt of studying at a university. But I am still in fear. Who will pay for my education if I do not go to work? Who will look after my mother?"
His mother echoed the same concern.
Kajol's co-workers, teachers and colleagues told The Business Standard about his struggle and how Kajol fought to cross the hurdles in his life to come this far.
"He is a role model," they said.