‘In a different galaxy with joy’

2014-01-08 00:00

A MONTH without a cellphone to minimise distractions, finding his groove with numbers and pacing himself with his studying all paid of in leaps and bounds for Westville Boys’ High matriculant Asil Motala (17).

He can now rightfully claim the title of reigning brain in the country, after being announced the top Grade 12 (in Quintile 5 schools) in South Africa, and also the number one matriculant in KwaZulu-Natal.

Quintile 5 are former Model C and affluent schools.

A total of 145 278 pupils in KZN sat for their matric exams in 2013.

He was in Johannesburg on Monday, where the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga broke the good news to them.

Last year Asil was also Dux at his school.

Speaking to The Witness at the Durban ICC, where the KZN Education Department was crowning the best of the best yesterday, he said: “I’m shocked and happy at the same time. I didn’t expect it.”

Asil was glad that his hard work paid off with eight distinctions.

Last year, in preparing for the biggest test of his secondary school life, he would come back from school, have lunch with family and then spend time with his books, calling it a day around 9 pm.

Consistency paid off and he advised those who would like to be in his shoes to start studying early in the year.

He received distinctions for English, Afrikaans, maths, life orientation, accounting, life sciences, physical sciences and maths paper three.

“Be able to pace yourself. But don’t stress too much or or you’ll burn out,” he cautioned.

Although he gave up competitive sports at school last year to focus on his school work, he still played squash and jogged.

He drew motivation from his brother Kaamil, who is studying towards a B.Com accounting degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Asil said Actuarial Science appeals to him because he loves numbers and is looking forward to studying the course at the University of Cape Town.

He joked that there was a bit of pressure to do better than his brother, who is his inspiration.

Asil’s mom, Saida, said she was “in a different galaxy with joy”. She cried when they announced that her son as the top pupil.

“I promised him I wouldn’t cry, but I broke the promise. It’s an emotion you can’t describe,” she said.

She said her son was a quiet child, very helpful, a neat freak and very organised.

She could never take credit for her son’s success, but all she did was to offer support, she said.

“He is a typical teenager and was into all the technology, but when it was time for exams he took out the battery from his phone because he wanted to concentrate on his studies.”

With journalists lining up to interview him, Asil seemed not to mind the attention.

“It’s nice for a change, but it’s tiring,” he smiled.

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