Nobody broke the news to her directly, but as soon as she heard her mother’s wails, KAVITA knew what had happened.

In an instant, she had lost her father. He was a soldier in the Indian Army and had been martyred in the jungles of Central India.

While she said her prayers to keep her father safe, he was battling for his last breath.

An otherwise chirpy girl of just 13, KAVITA withdrew into a shell for the first few weeks after the tragedy. She was the apple of her father’s eye and it was difficult for her to make sense of the world where he didn’t exist anymore.

No one, including her mother, could get through to her, and her classmates’ attempts at cheering her had up also failed. When we meet her in her house a few months after the incident, we are told she is doing a lot better, thanks to the emotional support from her family and school.

She has now refocused on her studies and wants to become a Chartered Accountant. A bright student, she manages her studies well on her own (Maths is her favourite subject), and diligently participates in extra curricular activities like singing, dancing and sports. Her positivity is helping her come out of the shock of her loss. Her mother tells us how her late husband was determined to give their daughters the best education because it was their ticket to empowerment and self-independence.

KAVITA also says that her father always told them that the pen is mightier than the sword and it is the only thing that will lead them to a successful life. She tells us that his words are now more precious to her than ever, and she is motivated to do her best at school and to achieve the dreams she and her father saw for her.

But will she ever recover from the pain of having lost a parent in such a manner? Yes, her father did his family and country proud, but a child always wants the parents to come back home to tuck her/ him in bed. But maybe KAVITA will have to be content with meeting her father only in her dreams.