72-Year-Old Mumbai Man Goes Back To School To Learn English

A former security guard and an employee of Nira Cooperative Society joined the school two months ago

72-year-old Mukund Chari had just one regret in life — not knowing English. But now, he wants to make sure that he doesn’t spend the rest of his life in repentance. Chari has joined Mumbai’s St Xavier’s Night School at Fort to study English literature from scratch.

A former security guard and an employee of Nira Cooperative Society, Chari joined the school two months ago. In the 1950s, he studied in a Marathi medium school till class XI and when he went to a college for admission, he was told that the education will be in English. This was a huge disappointment for him as he wanted to study literature.

He never returned to study after the college episode as he lost his parents and he was the eldest among five children. He decided to work and look after his brothers and sisters.

“We went on with our lives. My sisters and brother got married and settled down. I continued with my jobs too but there was one thing that always lingered at the back of mind. I wanted a master’s degree in English literature. I haven’t read Shakespeare but I hear it is great,” he told TOI.

But what motivated him to go back to school was his regret of not completing studies due to the language. “I feel very incomplete that I couldn’t pursue a degree because I wasn’t able to speak English. I think I have only a few years to live and I want to fix that. Instead of just spending my days visiting temples like my friends do, I picked the school,” he said.

Now, he wants to go for masters or Ph.D. in any subject related to literature.

Currently living with his sister’s family, Chari doesn’t want to make his school burden on his family. So when he decided to go to school again, he first found something he could afford. “The family was extremely supportive but I wanted to go to an aided school. Our neighbours had questions about my choice. Often, they wanted to know if I felt ashamed sitting among children but this feels just like family,” he said.

Not only Chari is excited but also the teachers who make sure that he attends classes regularly. “Chari never misses a day of prayer which begins at 6.25pm. He is as enthusiastic as the young ones. In fact, he climbs up the stairs with the rest of the young boys in spite of us offering him to use the lift as an exception,” said school head, Ajit Dave to TOI.