Deanna Pereira’s achievements went unnoticed because she took the exam as a private candidate
Deanna Pereira has known only silhouetted daylight. But, that never deterred this habitual topper.
On Thursday, when the higher secondary exam results were announced and district toppers were feted, Deanna Pereira’s stand-out score of 1,159 as a visually challenged candidate slipped past undetected. This was largely because she was a private candidate.
On Saturday, at the Pereira household here, celebrations, if any, was a muted affair. Seated coyly in an emerald green and fuchsia pink suit in the solitude of her home in Karaikal, Deanna’s demure demeanour belies her innate sense of pride. Deanna did not want the spotlight to be on her disability but only on her marks.
“At first, Deanna did not want me to take it to the media. She did not want to be an object of sympathy,” says Joe Pereira, the beaming father.
Diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, a condition of progressive loss of central vision, when she was barely nine, Deanna can now only see blurred profiles of persons within three feet and in broad daylight.
For Deanna, her constant companion was the sturdy magnifying glass, the size of a paper weight tightly wrapped in a black pouch. That was her reading aid. Tracing the magnifying glass on her lessons, Deanna would first read out her answers aloud and have them recorded for subsequent revisions.
“I owe half my marks to my mother,” says Deanna. Maureen Pereira, an Economics graduate, burnt the midnight oil with her daughter, reading out her lessons over again. When Deanna scored 455 marks in class X from Nirmala Rani Matriculation Higher Secondary School here, she chose Commerce stream to avoid practicals.
“But, there was no optional subject to replace Computer Science. However, her school allowed her to continue her Plus One, and she remained a topper.”
Later, when faced with the board exams in Plus Two, her school suggested she appear as a private candidate with Political Science as an optional subject instead of Computer Science. But, the school permitted her to attend all classes all through the academic year. Deanna was a student without her name in the attendance register. “My Accounts teacher would read out the debit and credit entries aloud as she wrote on the board and I would write down the entries. Prompting by teachers and friends helped me a lot,” says Deanna. The effort has paid with her scoring 200 in Accountancy, and 198 each in Commerce and Economics.
Making light of her feat, Deanna only has this to say, “I‘ve always loved studies. I can study late into the night, but hate to wake up early.” All she dreams of is becoming a lecturer in English. With that score, Deanna could apply to any of the best colleges offering literature. “There is only one local college here offering English Literature. But that should do as we cannot send her out to be on her own in her condition,” says Mr.Pereira.
Lack of clear vision has given Deanna a keen ear for music. Deanna plays the violin, sings in the choir and has taught herself to use a keyboard. “She can reproduce the notes on the keyboard by just listening to a song once,” say the Pereiras.