5 – year old Dev cannot seem to figure out why his father doesn’t come home for holidays anymore. For him it is a long assignment that his father is on that has kept him away from them.

Dev’s father, a CRPF personnel, was martyred in the spring of 2016 in a terrorist attack. The child was only three at the time and only remembers fragments of his father, memories that are on the verge of being obliviated with time. Already now his mother admits that he has forgotten quite a bit about him. But when he says that he wants to be a soldier like his father it comes as a surprise to us.

Dressed in a white t-shirt and green shorts with a perpetual smile on his face, Dev is a carefree child who loves to play with his siblings and his house chickens. It is a little heartbreaking to realise that this bright smiled boy will never know a father-son relationship.

But his family consisting of his mother and two elder sisters is leaving no stone unturned in providing him with what he needs. They dote on him and he, in turn, brought laughter and happiness back to the family after the heavy loss. He is the life’s lighter vein for them, with his antics like singing Bollywood songs on a loop, running around the house, playing with his toys, saying amusing things only a child can say etc. But one can see that he is missing something in life. It is his father.

His mother has done a commendable job in raising three children on her own after her husband’s sudden death. She wasn’t ready for such a huge responsibility, she says, but life had other plans. Being an uneducated woman sorting out her husband’s paperwork was a nightmare as was finding a job that could bring them additional money. Thankfully, she has been able to get the paperwork in place with the help of a relative, and whatever little monthly pension she gets (which only started at the beginning of the year) is paying off her kids’ private school education and upkeep.

She is suffering from sciatica, a nerve problem in the lower body, the medication for which she stopped after the tragedy because she could not afford them. But as the sails of her ships are returning to normal, she will be resuming her treatment once again.

But we see happiness and hope in their faces, and the house that Dev’s father started constructing and his mother completed is full of warmth and activity, reflecting their positive state of mind.

It is definitely not easy for the mother to handle the personal loss of losing her partner and to take care of her family, but she does not let her worries rub off on her children so that they can enjoy their childhood.