Madhumidha Rajesh, a girl whose earnest limpid eyes outshine her humble, graceful and calm demeanour is no ordinary girl. The fact that she keeps herself under the wraps and makes no big deal of her accomplishments, makes her seem no different from kids her age. However, she is far from it.
After the news of her becoming the Oman topper, a score of 98.4%, for Cbse 10th boards, I called her up and asked if she might want to talk about her success to an audience waiting to hear from her. Although shy at first, she soon enough, agreed.
Madhumidha received me at her doorstep with a warm hug and a cheerful smiling face.
Later, after exchanging pleasantries with her parents, she took me to her very well kept room for our chat.
So? How does it feel, now that you know you are the top scorer in Oman?
It feels great to think that I have made several other people proud with this achievement. I am really happy.
When did you start thinking about the preparations for tenth boards? Many grown ups would say you have to start worrying about it even when you are in ninth, so did you?
I only started thinking about boards when I was in tenth. My norm has anyways been to be on the top of things. I try to keep a balance between finding time to simply relax, and studying. Even during boards, my study pattern was not very different from any other regular day. I did go to cycle around and stuff.
Did your school also have a similar approach to boards?
I cannot say that it did. There was a higher pitch for the efforts taken by our teachers towards training us for the exam.
Would you say that there was a pressure build up then?
Yes, I would.
When there is a lot of ‘testing’ at school, what’s going on in your mind?
It’s one test at a time for me. I think that I don’t want to lose more than one or two marks, which means I must be thorough in everything I am expected to learn.
This has been how you approached your study material even when you were younger?
It’s always been like that. Yes!
You did allow yourself those few mistakes then? You did not strive for perfection?
I was not expecting to become Oman topper. I only wanted to do my best which I knew would be a score of somewhere in the ninety range. I did give more focus on math and science though and I must say that there, I did want as much marks I could possibly get because those are the subjects I would continue studying after tenth.
I don’t like social studies so I was not expecting much there. I loved French, so I studied it with interest, like it was a hobby. English I had to work a lot on my grammar.( smiles)
As a young child, you had wanted to study medicine? Is the dream of getting into med school still on?
Yes, very much ! I am working on clearing the NEET exam after 12th. However, if I don’t clear the exam, I might change plans and do a course on neuroscience.
From hereon then, what is your plan?
Just keep doing what I’ve always been doing.( smiles)
Your commitment to ‘practice’ whether it was singing or swimming or studying has always been huge for you, right? You do not compromise on that at all I presume? How important a role has this ‘systematic practice schedule’ played in the kind of results you have got?
I would say it is the most important part of my student life. Each day I had a subject related work out. Math practice has always been an everyday habit. I do not compromise on that. Every week last year, culminated in a test at school. So week ends I would focus on those tests.
That’s it! It has been a day to day routine and a weekend schedule based on school tests.
Have you had to strategize for the long run? Have you for instance had a larger picture in mind when you prepared? I mean with the entire syllabus in mind?
No, I don’t think like that. It’s whatever was taught on a particular day, I need to learn it that very day. I have not worried about planning my work at all. For me it has been about forming that habit where study is an everyday thing.
Does cbse exams really require you to only memorize what’s in your text? Do children take the effort to understand the concept enough?
I would not be able to move ahead without a good understanding of the concept. You need that for math and science no matter what. Not so much for social science, which is why I don’t like the subject. (smiles)
As far as the kind of questions for the exams are concerned, this time math was pretty easy. There was only one question where some thinking was involved. The rest of the questions were all text based.
Science exam though did have quite a number of ‘hots’ questions which could not have been answered without a good understanding of the topic. All my answers were in fact only written based on my understanding of the concept and not because I learnt the text ‘by heart’.
What do you have to say about the change in Cbse curriculum. How did your batch take the news?
I think most kids would have taken the news as I did. Initially I was petrified about the ‘full syllabus’ idea only because it was unfamiliar. I later realized you don’t have to do anything different than what you had already been doing.
A lot of my readers would be interested to know about a typical day of yours. Why don’t you give me a ‘peep’ into your world on any such day?
A typical day would start with school. When I get back home, there would absolutely be no time to waste as I would have to hurry to get to my tuitions. I would have to eat my lunch really fast before I leave. At tuitions, I fervently followed everything my tutor instructed.Later, I would come back home and finish off with homework. Once I’m done with that I did my daily lessons.
How many hours a day did you study then?
I am not going to include school time and tuitions which is more or less an assimilation of information. Real comprehending and learning happens later at home. So excluding school and tuitions I would study for about two hours a day.
You told me about your tests at schools. Did you keep a journal? How did you keep tabs on upcoming tests?
I did not have to keep tabs as such because the day for a test had been pre-decided by my school. The day does not change. It was always on Saturdays and so I only had to know what I had to study before the week ended on a Saturday.
You sing and you swim and you don’t compromise on practicing any of your skills? Tell me something more on that.
I don’t go to singing or keyboard classes anymore because they got replaced by tuitions. ( grins) I love listening to my favorite songs while I cycle. Earlier, when I stayed in a different house, there had been a pool where I managed to do a couple of laps but since I moved to my current one, I have not been swimming either.
I did find time to paint though, which I did just to de-stress. Nothing competitive about it.
The paintings on your living room walls? You did all of that?
Yes. They are mostly a reproduction of a photo or some picture I had seen earlier.
I know you are a hugely self- motivated person but is there also someone or some people who you might attribute your success to?
My parents, my mom especially. Not all days are perfect,. That’s when she would step in and keep me going. My teachers have worked hard. I must say their dedication towards me and the other kids paid off.
To be so unflinchingly systematic, is that your innate nature or is it that you got used to a certain kind of discipline at home?
I guess my basic nature is like that to a large extent. I don’t remember ever not being systematic but I must say it probably is also because my mother instilled it in me. Until class 6 for instance, my mother actively checked if I was doing my everyday lessons. Class 7 onwards I have been pretty much on my own, but I’ve just kept doing whatever my mother made me do until then. I guess she turned it into a habit, because I don’t like it if I miss out on anything. So I don’t.
Do you have regular family chats about your future plans?
Yes we do have those chats where I discuss my ideas with my parents. I also have a cousin with who I do these kind of chats.
Now, that you have got top scores in Cbse boards, there would be more kids than you can know about, who would want to know what you do. How does it feel?
It’s just about beginning to sink in. (smiles) When this news came out what I felt was different from anything I had felt before, so I could not describe it. Now I can sum it all up to ‘I am feeling very happy’.
Would you be available to kids who want your help?
Yes, obviously!( smiles)
All done with 10th and board exams, how has class 11 been so far?
I have not been able to find time to paint.(smiles). My method of studying the day’s lessons the very same day is getting really difficult because there is so much covered during the day at school and a couple of hours in the evening don’t seem to be enough to learn it all. Yet I am at it all the same. I have not taken a different approach so far.(smiles)
I’m sure you are going to work it out.I really do wish you all the very best for all your future exams, the next big one being the 12th boards?
Thank you so much. Tenth boards are not as important as 12th. It is after 12th I’ll get to decide which career path to follow. So yes, I shall look forward to everyone’s blessings and good wishes.
A very codial and charming girl, Madhumidha did nothing seemingly extra-ordinary. However, what makes her special is that she used a very simple idea with fierce determination. One of the worst problems that plagues our children, procrastination was never an issue with this amazing girl. At her age, it takes enormous levels of will power to not be influenced by media distractors, or her own teenager emotions.
If you’ve liked Madhumidha’s determination and perseverence, let your appreciation be known to her. The ‘like’ button, is right here ↓