Six years ago, Manoj Singh was a Std X student in a regular day school preparing for his board exams. Today, the 19-year-old from R K Hindi is the night school topper with a score of 86.15% (with 149 out of 150 in maths). But there is a huge gap in the puzzle that neither Manoj nor his parents can piece together.
Manoj’s mother Sushma said the family lived in a chawl in Thane when he went missing in 2002. “He told me that he was going to watch dandiya, but returned home a full four years later. He says he remembers nothing, his mind is totally blank,” Sushma said on Thursday.
The Singhs were shattered when Manoj went missing. “We searched everywhere. His father and I were totally devastated, but I never lost faith in God and knew that we would get our son back some day,” she said recalling those dark days.
Manoj says he remembers nothing that occurred between his going to watch dandiya and the day he reached his ancestral home in Labeda Ramganj village in Uttar Pradesh. “The four years in between are just blank. I only know that I used to work in a dhaba called Rajput in UP during the last two of those four years. It was then that I suddenly remembered that I had a family here and I conveyed this to the dhaba owner. He dropped me at my relatives’ home in UP. I now realise that my family had been looking for me and had even registered a missing complaint with a police station in Thane,” he said.
The family, however, is not dwelling on the mystery of the four missing years. It’s celebration time now and the Singhs have not stopped rejoicing ever since a news channel crew landed at their doorstep with the good news about their son being the night school topper.
Manoj, unlike his friends, did not go to the nearest cyber cafe to check his result as he was confident of sailing through. “But topping the rank list came as a pleasant surprise,” the boy confessed.
His proud mother says Manoj has always been a smart child and to this day he doesn’t have fixed hours dedicated to study. “He studied in our village in UP until Std V. We then moved to Mumbai and he studied here until he went missing when he was in Class X. Regular day schools refused to take him back when he came back home in November 2006,” Sushma said, explaining the shift to a night school. “We never needed to remind him to study. He is a very simple and quiet boy, never up to mischief, unlike his siblings,” she added.
Manoj has a 12-year-old brother, Saurav, and a seven-year-old sister, Preeti. His father, Uday Pratap Singh, is an insurance agent and also distributes cigarettes to shops.
The principal of Manoj’s school R S Mishra isn’t aware of the mystery behind the boy who has brought glory to his institution. “I was only told that he could not attend a regular school because he taught English grammar in an academy,” Mishra said.
Manoj plans to do electrical engineering and then join the NDA.