On Tuesday morning, even as his fellow students of General Cariappa Higher Secondary School in Saligramam were in search of an internet café to check their results amid the power cut, 17-year-old P. Vinoth Kumar was relaxed. "My colleagues at the office saw the result at exactly 11 a.m. and informed me," said Vinoth, an office boy at a real estate Company in Saligramam.

Delivering company couriers, depositing cheques in the bank – all this is a day's work for Vinoth who has been working since his exams. But with an 87 per cent, he is relieved because new opportunities are finally open to him. During his preparation, his father's warning that he might as well continue in this line of work if he did not score more than 1,000 had been both a source of inspiration and anxiety.

He is used to working while studying. “I used to get up at 5 a.m. and clean four cars at a colony nearby before going to school. ”

Vinoth's mother is a house maid, while his father works in a waste-paper shop. After class X, his love for mathematics led to him choosing group 1 (Physics, chemistry, Mathematics) and he joined a school nearby because it was in the next street and he could also work and study, his mother P. Chithra said.

But for his schoolmates, his love for mathematics was godsend. At least five students owe their success in the class XII exams to him. As his classmate M. Kumaresh, fondly recalled, “We would go to his house in the evening every day and he would teach us new ways of solving problems. We all passed in maths because of him.”

While Vinoth's mother is quite adamant that her son opts for engineering, he has other plans. “I want to pursue a B.Sc. in Mathematics and be a teacher.” His mother would rather that he get a good job. “The people in whose houses I work also tell me that engineering is better. I don't know why he wants to become a teacher,”

Vinoth's primary concern though, is his brother Vignesh, who dropped out of school a few years ago. “He is just fourteen but he likes repairing ACs. We have put him into an AC mechanic course, and we hope he likes it. We all should do what we like to do.” says the student.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012