“Papa bhagwaan ke ghar gaye hai, wo jaldi waapas aayengi”(“Papa has gone to God’s home, he will return soon”) – When Aroon said these words his big brown eyes smiled; indicating that the 4-year old was certain that his father would return any day. He thinks “bhagwaankeghar” is a place good people good for a couple of years.

But alas, his father was martyred two years ago in Jammu and Kashmir when Aroon was all of 2 years old. He lives at his maternal grandparents’ house with his mother and elder brother and grandparents in Mehwa, a small town in Uttar Pradesh. Aroon studies in Lower Kinder Garden in a nearby public school.

He is a bashful child who likes to tinker on his mother’s mobile phone and was shy to interact with us in the beginning. But he smiled wide when asked about his father and said what makes him proud of his father.

“He is a strong man who kills enemies and protects the country, I also want to be like him“, he said with a twinkle in his eyes. He told us that he wants to join the Indian Army.
His family dotes on him, as he is the youngest child of the family and after the loss of his father, his mother is very protective of him.

“He is very close to me and sometimes he cries a lot when he has to go to school. I have to cajole a lot and drop him to school myself”, she said lovingly looking at her son. “We don’t have a lot, but we have built a life for ourselves in the last 2 years through a lot of hardship, and now for me it is all about my sons”, she said with a proud smile and – when Aroon was out of earshot – she confessed that she at times she doesn’t have an answer to give him when he asks why his father doesn’t visit anymore. “He is becoming observant of the fact that his friends have fathers, but not he”.

Aroon’s mother is only thirty years old and although her family wants her to remarry she is afraid that another man will not accept her sons. She has instead decided to devote herself to raising her sons and lead them to achieve their potential.

“That is my only goal”, she concluded in a calm, resolute tone as her eyes brimmed with tears.