THE 11 YEAR OLD BIG BROTHER
Eleven-year-old Prateek’s childhood was rudely jolted two years ago when news of his father’s martyrdom reached the family in Bihar. Until then he led a carefree life in his village of just over 2500 residents, running around like kids do. He is the eldest son of the house, and though he is only 11, he is expected to guide his younger siblings.
It is a duty he has taken with valour as he believes that studying well will take him to his goals and inspire his siblings as well. To this end, he sensibly agreed to study in a boarding school even though he misses his family a lot. The family took the hard decision because local schools do not provide quality education. He is in 4th grade and doing well in academics.
His best memories are with his father. He was rarely at home, so whenever he could he made sure to spend quality time with Prateek; together they played cricket, went for walks and even played quiz. His father also helped him with studies and took a keen interest in his academic performance. Since Prateek’s mother is uneducated the young boy loved it when his father tutored him from time to time.
Now all of this is in a distant memory, but his core teaching to “always help others” still ring clear in his head, and he’d like to become a doctor to give meaning to his father’s words. He is proud of his father’s bravery and informs us that he took 6 bullets for the nation and died like a hero.
“I want to make my father’s name proud by becoming a doctor and helping others, he always told me that I should work for the community”, he says with maturity beyond his age. “If I become successful my brothers will also follow my path“, he adds revealing his sense of responsibility and confidence.
“After the loss of his father Prateek lost a part of his childhood“, his grandmother says ruefully. She is now the head of the family and greatly misses her son who was her pillar of strength after her husband died 18 years ago. The distraught mother couldn’t help crying while narrating stories about her son. Now it is her grandsons that she is focused on.
Financially the family is struggling since January 2018. The martyr’s pension is stuck due to bureaucratic reasons and Prateek’s current family of 5 is making ends meet with the money they saved up. It hasn’t been an easy ride for the family, but together the members are pulling it through with the help of Prateek’s uncle who is helping them with official paperwork.
This is the biggest learning curve Prateek can ever face, and the good news is that he is facing the music with a big smile and eyes on the goal.