Durga Kami, 68, who is studying tenth grade at Shree Kala Bhairab Higher Secondary School, poses for a picture wearing his school uniform at his house in Syangja, Nepal, June 5, 2016.
Navesh Chitrakar—Reuters
June 15, 2016 2:24 PM EDT

Every morning, before the sun goes up, Durga Kami brushes his teeth, puts on his uniform and walks for over an hour to get to school. His routine is not too different from that of other ten graders in Nepal. Except maybe for one thing: he is 68, and one of the country’s oldest students.

A father of six—and a grandfather of eight—Kami told Reuters he was forced out of school by poverty as a kid and never fulfilled his dream of teaching.

Durga Kami looks into a mirror as he combs his beard while getting ready for school in Syangja, Nepal, on June 5, 2016. Kami has promised his classmate that he will cut his beard off if he passes tenth grade.
Navesh Chitrakar—Reuters

Following the death of his wife though, and to avoid a lonely life at home, he decided to go back to the classroom.

“To forget my sorrows I go to school,” Kami said in the interview.

Durga Kami uses a torch to read a book during a power cut at his one-room house in Syangja, Nepal, on June 4, 2016.
Navesh Chitrakar—Reuters

After his own kids had all left his hilltop home in Syangja district, 155 miles west of Nepal’s capital Katmandu, Kami first went to a primary school to learn how to read and write.

He then got a scholarship to attend the Shree Kala Bhairab higher secondary school, which gave him stationery and a uniform: white shirt, gray trousers and a tie.

Durga Kami and his classmates pose for a group picture in their classroom at Shree Kala Bhairab Higher Secondary School in Syangja, Nepal, on June 5, 2016.
Navesh Chitrakar—Reuters

Despite using a walking cane, Kami is eager to participate in all school activities — even volleyball. His 14- and 15-year-old classmates, initially wary of the “old man” sitting among them in the classroom, have grown to like him and started calling him “Baa,” or “father” in Nepali.

Durga Kami plays volleyball with schoolmates during a break in Syangja, Nepal, on June 5, 2016.
Navesh Chitrakar—Reuters

“If they see an old person with white beard like me studying in school they might get motivated as well,” he told Reuters, adding he hopes to study until his death.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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