Exam time for the intelligent living goddess

LALITPUR: The nationwide School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination kicked off today with at least one special candidate — 15-year-old Kumari of Patan, Chanira Bajracharya — taking her English test.

Unlike the usual exam atmosphere, where dozens of students are invigilated by a single person in a room, the ‘living goddess’ had three - a policeperson, an officer from the District Education Office Lalitpur and the District Education Officer (DEO) Keshab Prasad Dahal himself during the English examination held today. “The incident is the first of its kind as far as I know so I made it a point to drop in her residence in Gabahal during my tour of exam centres in the district,” the DEO told this daily.

“English is an easy subject for me. I could answer all the questions in one-and-a-half hours. However, I spent another 30 minutes going over what I had written,” said Chanira, who has held the special status for the last nine years.

“I’m not very fluent in Nepali since my mother tongue is Newari and I use English to talk to my tutors,” she shared. “But I’ve studied my Nepali lessons thoroughly and I can write in the language fairly well.”

She has a private tutor while some subject teachers from nearby Bhassara Secondary School take it in turns to teach her the courses in the afternoon.

“She is intelligent and it’s easier to teach her than students in general,” said Purnima Bajracharya, who has been tutoring Chanira since the middle of Grade IX. “I used to teach her all the subjects to begin with. For quite some time, I’ve been helping her only with Compulsory Mathematics, Optional Mathematics and

Science due to time

constraints,” the teacher added.

The living goddess does not have much time for watching television or reading for fun. Except for periods for puja, guest visit and food, she devotes most of her time to studies. “I’ve stopped seeing devotees and guests such as foreign tourists for the last couple of days in order to manage more time for studies,” she shared.

She does not know what it is like to go to a school ever since her completing Grade I from Palpasa Primary School in the locality. Bhassara school has since been conducting her year-end examinations. Two years ago, she passed her Grade VIII district level-examination from the same school.

She loves reading stories particularly those related to space. Asked how she would carry on with her education post-SLC, she said she did not have much idea about it but added she would be studying management since she wants to enter the banking sector.

“My school will arrange for my studies as long

as I hold this position,” she added.

Chanira will remain the Kumari until her menstruation.