Girl with the life size smile

Twelve year old Malini is the apple of her family’s eye and was of her father too for the short while that he could spend with her. For only a few months after she was born, he was martyred in the jungles of North East India. Since then the mother has taken the role of both the parents.

We are sitting in the family’s living room when Malini arrives from school – with pink flushed cheeks and a bright smile that covers most of her face, the kind that spreads delight and positivity.

She plonks herself in the middle of the room and starts arrestingly talking about school, friends and her hobbies – breaking into giggles when someone cracks a joke here and there. Malini is a native of a state in North east and carries the freshness of the hills. She nonchalantly says that though she doesn’t remember anything about her martyred father he is her eternal hero. On asking whether she’d like to join the forces too she says, “I am too young to know what I want to do, but I want to study well and make my parents proud”.

Malini is very bright in studies and has been a class topper since she started school. She is also a regular participant in school co-curricular activities, the highlight being her participation in the 2017 National Science Olympiad. Due to the deplorable condition of public schools in the area, the children study in a private school, which is not easy on the family’s finances. But the medals of achievement Malini gets is exactly the kind of gratification her mother needs to keep trying to give her children a good life. Since she only gets 10,000 rupees as pension from the State and due to increasing expenses has had to take up multiple jobs. Though uneducated herself, her focus is to support the daughters to achieve their dreams..

“ I am proud to be the mother of such a hardworking and understanding daughter. Her father would have been proud of her”, she says while showing us her martyred husband’s photo in which he is decked up in his uniform. “Our lives completely changed after the demise of my husband, but we have been able to get by”, she further adds with a smile.

Their’s is an all women – power home. They are each other’s friends and greatest source of strength. Malini considers her older sister as a mentor and her mother as the rock of the family. The family has won half the battle with love and determination. It is heartening to see how a young girl like Malini is devoted to doing well at school as a mark of gratitude to her mother. A daughter of a brave soldier, she is a soldier too, no less.