When D. Akshay Kumar was in UKG, his teacher found he had trouble with his vision. In class V, he was wearing glasses, but still sat in the last row of his classroom at DAV Boys Senior Secondary School, Mogappair.
Each year though, he came forward by a few benches, and began using thick markers instead of pencils in his notebooks to help him see better. By the time he came to class X, it did not matter, as the condition he was suffering from, retinitis pigmentosa, took away his eyesight.
Akshay however, is a fighter. Despite no vision and a challenging curriculum, he stuck it out and secured a stunning 460/500. CBSE acknowledged him as one of the special students who has scored above 90 per cent.
“I want to become a legal advisor, and train in company secretaryship. I will also write the civil services examination,” he said. K. Selvakumari, his mother, a teacher at a government school said that without the support of the school and the teachers, especially in class XI and XII, his feat would have been impossible.
She said the school took care of Akshay’s little needs such as finding a spot where there was adequate sunlight. “His vision continued to deteriorate gradually, but we wanted to ensure that he kept studying in a regular school without failing in any subject. It was only in class X that he took the help of a scribe. At home, I read out the portions and he grasped the concepts,” she said.
To teach him geometry and arithmetic, she said, she drew the diagrams on his back so that he would get an idea of what was in the textbooks. She also stuck sticks on a board so that he could feel the shapes, and would meticulously read out chapters that were taught in school each evening.
“We took the textbooks to the district library, where there was a provision to scan them and convert them into audio files. He also used the Job Access With Speech (JAWS) software to study,” she added.
In classes IX and X, Akshay said that CCE was particularly helpful because he could score 40 marks through activities. It was classed XI and XII that posed real challenges. “Until class V, I could read without any help, until class VII I was able to walk by myself, but in class X, I was scared about where I had to place my foot next. I wanted to prove myself.”
From being the most difficult subject, accountancy became his favourite because of his teacher, Padmaja Premnath. “I used to love science, but gave it up because doing practicals would be difficult,” he said.
Though his elder brother too suffers from a similar condition, his is not as bad as Akshay’s, said his father, who drops and picks up Akshay wherever he has to go.
While Akshay is in school, they don’t worry, his parents said, as he and his friend, Sreepadh Guruprasad are inseparable. Sreepadh, one of the toppers at his school said he and Akshay often got together for jamming sessions. Akshay plays the keyboard, and Sreepadh the violin.
Lalitha Thiagarajan, principal of the school, said: “After class X, we insisted that Akshay continue with us. He scored a CGPA of 8.8 in class X while still grappling with his condition. We are proud to have him,” she said.