Scoring 54 per cent marks in board exams sounds no big deal when 80 per cent seems more like the norm now, but the achievement by Vasant Raote of Nandore village in Palghar stands out as an inspiring tale of struggle and determination.
Raote wants to become an accomplished painter like the late MF Husain and says he will try to get admission at the reputed JJ School of Art in Mumbai after completing junior college.
Raote's strength of purpose is remarkable as he did not take the help of any writer and wrote all his papers holding the pen between his toes.
"I was not sure whether I would clear my SSC this year as the computer subject paper was tough. But (I cleared it) thanks to my teacher who ensured that I got proper education. I am also grateful to my arts teacher who taught me how to paint using my leg," said Raote, a student of Jeevan Vikas High School.
The SSC Board had granted Raote an additional 90 minutes in every examination to complete his papers.
Raote said he was also grateful to his teachers for standing by him throughout his struggle and never making him feel left out.
Raote used to attend his school with his escort and friend Jayant Dumade, who would carry his satchel and other belongings for him. The duo would travel in an autorickshaw provided by the school.
Asked about his plans, Raote said he will enrol in the commerce stream now and finally aims to seek admission at the JJ School of Art.
"It is my dream to become a painter like MF Husain," he said.