Nem is a shy girl of 18, and one of the few times she opens up is when she is playing a sport. Born and brought up in the hilly state of Manipur, sports is her passion and she is a regular participant in outdoor activities at school. She also fractured her ankle while doing a long jump that kept her away from sports for 6 months for which she had to undergo physiotherapy.

“I was very sad to be not able to play and my healing took time because physiotherapy is expensive and I couldn’t go regularly”, she says. Now her ankle is much better, but she will probably not be able to play sports like before.

She was 5 years old when her father sacrificed himself to protect the nation. On being asked whether she remembers him the answer is a quiet no, but she mentions that her father is her hero.

Nem has just appeared for her 10th board exams and is looking forward to attending the same private college as her brother.

“I want to study Humanities in the college where my brother goes. It is a good school and many of my friends also want to go there!” she says with a smile. The school is one of the best in town, and though it will be expensive for the family, Nem ’s mother is willing to pull it off for her children’s benefit. There are also Government schools in the area, but the education quality is low and private schools are the only option.

Whereas in any other region under such financial crunch a young girl would have been kept at home and prepared for marriage, it is not the case in Manipur. On discussing such state of affairs in the rest of the country with Nem ’s mother, she remarks, “We prize education above all, when my daughter has a good education and is able to stand on her feet she will marry, now it is too early.” There is a glint of pride in her eyes.

She further adds that it was her husband’s dream to make the children self-sufficient, the reason why she strives day and night at her jobs, instead of putting her kids to work already.

It is heartening to see the family share a very close bond and share both hardships and joys together. It was stormy for the mother to raise a family on her own, but she has done her part very well and the children are now on their way to achieving their parents’ dreams of becoming successful and good citizens.