Humiliated by his teacher and mother for not being able to cope with study pressure, a Class IX student of St Xavier's School went missing from Bokaro steel city on Tuesday afternoon.
An FIR has been lodged with Section IV police.
Bibartan Joardar, fondly known as Angel, had taken admission to the city cradle in October 2011 after his father Jayanta Joardar was transferred to Bokaro Steel from Durgapur Steel. But, he found Hindi, instead of his mother tongue Bengali, a tough choice as his second language. The 15-year-old was also weak in science subjects, which often left him embarrassed in front of his classmates.
On Tuesday, senior teacher of St Xavier's Father Rossner called a meeting with his parents. Mother Aparna went to see the teacher at 10am and was told that the final examinations were six-seven weeks away and if her ward did not improve his grades soon, the school would not promote him to Class X.
The parent-teacher meeting left Aparna furious and she refused to listen to any of Bibaratan's explanations for his slow learning. She even threatened him of stinging rebuke once he landed home after school. That, perhaps, was the cardinal mistake.
"My Angel never came home," Aparna told The Telegraph between sobs and sniffles. "He did try to tell me why his grades were not improving, but I was so stubborn because I was embarrassed for being called by his teacher. He was never good in Hindi. He told me he did not have friends who would co-operate with him and help him learn better. I did not listen," she said, admitting that she had warned him of more admonition at home.
On a normal day, Bibartan came home in the school bus by 3.30pm. On Tuesday, he did not return till 3.45pm. A panicky Aparna called the school and then husband and senior AGM of Bokaro Steel Jayanta. Together, they searched everywhere ' from neighbours' homes to that of relatives. The teen was nowhere to be found.
At 7.45pm, an auto-rickshaw driver dialled Jayanta's mobile phone number. He said the boy had taken the auto to Bokaro station around 5pm and asked him to wait. Bibartan told the driver that he would go to the platform and receive his uncle. The boy even left his school bag in the vehicle as guarantee that he would return and pay the auto fare.
Impatient after waiting for more than two and a half hours, the driver rummaged through Bibartan's bag, found his school diary with his parents' numbers and dialled Jayanta. The anxious father lodged an FIR.
An inconsolable Aparna told the police she should never have scolded her son.
"Angel's younger brother Mayukh tops Class V and I wanted him to do his best too. I did not mean to hurt him. My son maybe 6ft tall, but he is a child at heart. He is weak in studies because we have shifted here from Durgapur only a year ago. He was trying to cope though. Like other teenagers, he never went to cyber cafes or asked for pocket money. He was a good boy. He did not have money to pay the auto. So, he left his bag and went away empty-handed," she said.
Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi said all police stations in the city had been alerted and a search launched for the missing student.
St Xavier's principal Father Pradip said though an average student, Bibartan was a good-natured boy. "He may have gone to some friend's place. We pray for his early and safe return."
Can parents be counselled to help kids deal with pressure?