Single Mom, Grandma to Two, Student Forever: 50-Year-Old Meghalaya Woman Clears Class 12 Exam


Single Mom, Grandma to Two, Student Forever: 50-Year-Old Meghalaya Woman Clears Class 12 Exam

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

It is a cliche to say that there is no age limit to achieve your dreams. And yet, it is true, as proved by a grandma to two, Lakyntiew Syiemlieh, from Meghalaya. A single, working mother to four, Syiemlieh cleared her Class 12 exams, 32 years after dropping out at the age of 50.

Syiemlieh was one of 24,267 students in Meghalaya who appeared for the state’s HSC exam, but indeed a special one. In 1989, she dropped out of school due to her struggle with mathematics. Life took a different course, as she got married at 21 and had four children. The marriage didn’t work out but she supported her family by teaching Khasi at a local school in her village.

Finally, in 2015, Syiemlieh felt she needed to get back to school. She enrolled for evening classes at the National Institute of Open Schooling at Umsning and cleared her Class 10 exams two years later, while juggling both job and classes. For Class 12, she took permission for a special gap year to attend lectures at Balawan College. Her efforts paid off, as she cleared her exams.

“I got a third division but I am very happy. My children are so thrilled that they started shouting, hugging and kissing me when the results were declared yesterday. In fact, it was the happiest day of my life,” said Syiemlieh

Syiemlieh’s result was a moment of pleasant surprise even for Father Laurence, principal of Balawan college. “To be honest, we were surprised. Sometimes, we have 30-year-olds, who have just gotten married, attending classes. But a 50-year-old, and with her level of enthusiasm and dedication, is just rare.”

Classmates lovingly called Syiemlieh “Mei”, which is Khasi for mother. Dressed in the college uniform, she attended classes with those nearly three decades younger to her. While she was studying her daughter Ibaphylla would help around the house. I am just so happy and proud to have her as my mother — she is talented, inspiring and caring,” she said.

Lakyntiew Syiemlieh’s next goal is a Bachelor’s degree in her favourite language Khasi. “I understand the importance of education — without it we are simply nothing,” she said. In a year filled with bleak news, the story of this grandma from Meghalaya is full of determination and hope, easily making her the Student of the Year.