True grit in the face of hardship

Constant encouragement: Subramaniam (left) talking to Pravindraaj (second from right) and Thivagaran. With them is Pandu Rengan.

PAGOH: Four siblings, who had to endure tremendous hardship with the passing of their mother and aunt and also with their father suddenly leaving them, have stayed together and continued encouraging each other to be strong and excel in their studies.

The boys, aged between 14 and 22, living in their three-room low-cost house here, all take turns to do the housework and even cook their daily meals on their own.

All their hard work and perseverance paid off when A. Pravindraaj, 20, the second in the family, scored four flat CGPA in his recent STPM examinations.

His third sibling, A. Thivagaran, 18, scored 6As, 2Bs and 1C in his recent SPM examinations and hopes to follow in his elder brother’s footsteps in doing STPM.

Pravindraaj said their lives had been difficult since their mother died in 2017 from liver failure.

“Then, within a few months my father just walked out on the four of us.

“We have not heard from him since.

“Imagine your father just packs up and leaves and calls to say that he could no longer care for us,” he said, adding that during this period their aunt came forward to help them financially.

However, she too passed away the following year in 2018.

“We were all devastated at that time, especially our youngest brother who was very close to my mother and aunt,” he said, adding that at that time his elder brother, who was still doing his diploma in pharmacy, decided not to pursue his studies and went to work to support the rest of them.

Pravindraaj said that before the movement control order was implemented, his brother would work between 8am and 10pm to earn as much money as possible to support his siblings.

“My brother earns about RM1,600, which is used for household expenses and to purchase whatever we need for the family.

“I will take on the role as cook in the house and prepare vegetarian meals daily for my siblings while the other two help out with the household chores,” he said, adding that they only cook meat during special occasions such as birthdays or festivals as they are careful with their spending.

Asked about how he juggled housework and studies, Pravindraaj, who studied at SMK Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah 1 here, said that it was difficult but he knew that he had to focus and do well in his examinations to be able to support his family.

He hoped to be a teacher someday to help others.

Meanwhile, Johor Sri Murugan Centre coordinator P. Subramaniam said that they were proud of Pravindraaj’s success and would be sponsoring Thivagaran’s studies for his STPM.

“This family has been through a lot and these boys have bonded and persevered together, especially in ensuring they complete their education,” he said, describing Pravindraaj as a disciplined and focused student.

“We also got together to set up a small fund to chip in to get provisions or education materials for these boys on a regular basis,” he said, adding that besides him, another person who frequently checked on the boys to ensure they were all progressing well was retired Johor Tamil Schools organiser C. Pandu Rengan.

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