Parents of suicide teenager get to see son’s final words on chemistry exam paper

The Indian High School Dubai on Thursday showed the family the boy's last words but have so far yet to give them a copy of his exam paper.

Abhimanyu Sadasivan, 16, left, who committed suicide in the middle of his exams, with his younger brother Ekalavyan, 13. Courtesy Sadasivan family
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DUBAI // The parents of a 16-year-old pupil who hanged himself were finally shown a copy of the exam paper that he wrote his suicide note on.

Abhimanyu Sadasivan’s last words were written on February 25 – five days before he hanged himself – telling of the pressures of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) system at the Indian High School Dubai. His body was found at the family apartment in Sharjah.

In the note, Abhimanyu talks of his love for his parents and younger brother and wrote he hoped his death would force the CBSE to consider the rigorous pressures the CBSE placed on pupils.

“It was his farewell to us and told how he loved us,” said his mother, Ambika Sadasivan. “He said the paper was only for us parents to see.

“I do feel really sad that he did not approach us or speak to us about what he went through. Ours was a happy home. He was a lovely boy.

“It was a very bad decision on his part but a mother cannot be angry with her son.”

The school has so far not given the family a copy of the note, said Mrs Sadasivan, but said it would do so at a later date.

“We believe they will live up to the promise,” she said.

“They told us that they could give a copy only to the police or the KHDA [Knowledge and Human Development Authority],” Mrs Sadasivan said. “We wanted to know the reasons why he took this step. We hold nothing against the school for what happened.”

She said reading the full, seven-page note, written on the chemistry exam answer sheet, had at least given the family some closure.

CBSE, a system based on rote learning, is known for its intense competition. Each year, tens of thousands of Grade 12 pupils sit crucial exams, and the final marks determine what universities they will be able to attend.

“My son had written: ‘The CBSE system is based on mugging [rote]. Education should be about understanding and applying your knowledge. My death should be a lesson and a reason for the system to change’,” Mrs Sadasivan said.

“My son had a pretty high IQ but he could never learn by mugging. He had to understand what he was studying. He liked reading and writing a lot.

“They are so young when they have to choose whether to opt for the commerce or science stream. They don’t know what pressures they could face later.”

The boy’s parents had been called to the school on the day of their son’s death, three hours after he failed to turn up for a maths exam, to be shown his note.

The headmaster told them that they were waiting for Abhimanyu to come to school to question him about the note.

He had written: “This is not my chemistry paper but the last exam I am writing. I am so bored of my life. I don’t want to live any more. When I am dead, I do not want my body to be taken to India.”

The top-performing school on Oud Metha Road had sent repeated reminders to his parents to pay school fees of Dh3,395 in the two months after he died, but later apologised to them blaming it on a computer error.

The school had made public its apology to the parents for demanding fees on its Twitter account @IndianHigh_DXB.

It read: “IHS would like to humbly apologise for the fee invoice email sent to you. It was a mix-up from our end and we had no intentions to hurt your feelings at this stage of bereavement. It was due to a technical error that the email was generated and sent.”

The school did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

High expectations in the annual Grade 12 exams from results-orientated Indian families have been blamed for several youth suicides every year in India and elsewhere.