Defying age-related issues and quest for knowledge, a 50-year old grandmother has come out in flying colours as she cleared the 12th board examination conducted by the Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBoSE).
Lakyntiew Syiemlieh, the oldest student of Balawan College in Ri Bhoi District, who always yearned to study and gain knowledge dropped out of class 9 in 1989 from Laitumkhrah Presbyterian Higher Secondary School because she was scared of Mathematics.
Years passed until she shifted to Umsning Lum-Umpih with her uncle and married in 1991. Like other moms, she was busy raising her four children, until in 2008 she was asked by the village to teach in the SSA school with a salary of Rs 500 a month.
"I enjoyed teaching children and was leading that life happy with that sum," she told Highland Post.
A word of inspiration from her colleagues to continue her schooling was her turning point. "Why don't you join school again and at least get a job that could sustain your family," Lakyntiew said what her colleagues at the village school felt.
It took her one year to decide and landed up as a student again in 2015 when she decided to join the evening school of National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) after a gap of around 26 years.
"I was a happy student! I was free from Math," she said. With Economics, Business, Home Science, English and Painting she cleared class X in 2017 with two attempts.
Not giving up she decided to pursue further with her studies when she went to approach Balawan College for admission. "The Principal was shocked and surprised because he thought I had gone there to admit my children," she said with a laugh.
Lakyntiew attended the school as a non-regular student in 2018. However, she decided to don the uniform of a student when she cleared her XI examination and take her big step as a higher secondary student and sit for the board exams from St. Michael Higher Secondary School.
"I was called mommy by my classmates. I was never taunted and we usually have good times together. We go out and hang around and I take part in college weeks," she said, adding, "I like jamming sessions! And enjoy my life with them as a senior most student."
Talking about her plans, Lakyntiew said she would pursue her Bachelors and take up Khasi as a major subject the same college, which is close to her school and her home.
"I like poetry and would like to learn more about the Khasi language and keep it alive," she said.
An ardent radio fan, she says an everyday show called 'Fun Unlimited,' aired by AIR FM Jongphi 103.6 MHz has inspired her to compose poems. "It is a show that tests your brain and gets everyone into thinking mode. I love participating in it as its an exercise for my brain," she says.
Not forgetting to thank her Principal, Fr. Lawrence Kharluni and Assistant Parish Priest Fr. Tobias Kharngapkynta, who believed and shaped her life, Lakyntiew said, "Age has no barrier and it is people like them who have given me the biggest opportunity in life without any reluctance that I was able to achieve one milestone at this age."
Lakyntiew also shares a message to students who did not succeed. "All I can say there is a word, try... Try and try harder." For school dropouts, she said, "Poverty might be one of the reasons...But I tell you, you can if you have a heart for it."