It was a bit of a struggle for Avadh’s mother to tear him away from the phone and to greet us.

“Lord knows about all the science stuff he keeps watching on YouTube“, she said with little with exasperation and more adoration for her son.

Finally, he gave in to her pressure, kept the phone away and came into the living room and said Namaste with a radiant smile.

“I like technology and like to watch the latest updates on cars and phones on YouTube“, he explained with a shy smile. He also enjoys Mathematics at school, and his mother proudly told us that he solves complex problems with ease. That apart, he is also interested in drawing and reading poems. Avadh wants to become a scientist when he grows up.
“Cricket is also my passion and we recently won a school tournament”, the 10-year old further said, showing us his winning medal with pride. He studies in 5th standard in a nearby school in his hometown of Mehwa, Uttar Pradesh.

But the spirited young boy doesn’t have it easy. He was born with a cleft lip and had to undergo a dental surgery when he was only 6 months old. He still wears a plate for a minimum of 3 hours every day that hurts his mouth a lot. The condition also restricts his food intake, as he is not allowed to eat hard food. When we asked whether he feels different because of it, he calmly stated that since his friends don’t treat him any different or tease him about it he doesn’t feel awkward. We were told that the treatment would continue for six more years.

When our conversations drifted towards his father’s Avadh’s we noticed sadness in his eyes. He is the son of a brave martyr who sacrificed his life at the terrorist attack in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir in 2016.
“My father is my role model and I miss him a lot”, he said in a voice thick with emotions. He reminisced with us about the time he wondered loudly to his father why it was important to study, as he didn’t like going to school. His father instead of scolding him for such thoughts narrated stories of great personalities to inspire him to take education seriously. Since then he takes an active interest in studies and co-curricular activities.

“Whenever I don’t want to go to school I think about my father’s words”,Avadh said with a smile. His father’s words are all the more precious to him now that he is no more.

Avadh was under trauma when he heard about his father’s untimely death. He stopped eating which reflected on his health and studies and the family did not know what to do to bring him out of his bereavement. But slowly he recovered and even today, his mother said, his health is not as it used to be before the tragedy. But he has acquired a fighting spirit.

“For me, it is all about making my father proud“, he concluded with a bright smile. Something tells us that this young boy will definitely fulfill this promise to himself.