A Rising star

There’s a common saying, “Be Kind, You Never Know What The Other Person Is Going Through”. And though 14-year old Ranjita’s bright smile is enough to make you want to protect her forever, behind her big grin lies the sadness of never having known her father. He was a soldier in the paramilitary force and was martyred when she was two years old.

And had her father been around, he’d have been proud of her achievements. Ranjita is a brilliant student- the class topper in fact – a regular participant in co – curricular activities and active amongst her peers. She also represents her school in educational and cultural programs in other states, and recently participated in National Science Olympiad 2017. The school is now awaiting her 10th board exam results and the teachers are confident of her good performance. Her goal is to crack the Indian Civil Service exams.

Ranjita’s mother, Ms. Nungshi Devi, though not educated, is determined to give her the best possible education to achieve her goals. The small pension the state offers the family is not nearly enough to pay for the kids’ school expenses, and she works as a vendor in the local market and sometimes as a helper in a small local restaurant. She is the rock of the family.

“It is not the rosiest life, but it is worth it for the sake of my children. I am very lucky to have such daughters”, she tells us squarely, when we ask her how she manages the financial pressure.

You can see the pride in Ms. Nungshi’s eyes when she talks of Ranjita’s achievements at school.she said. Ranjita wins a lot of medals at various competitions, sometimes I don’t know where to display them around the house. But the worst is over. When her husband was martyred, she found herself helpless with two toddlers. Her late husband was not just the family’s financial pillar, but also a great source of support to her.

The last Ms. Nungshi heard from him was when he phoned in to hear his daughters’ voices from a public phone booth from the area where he was posted, a troubled border station. Week later news came that his body was amongst the pile of decomposed bodies found in the middle of the jungle.

As she narrates her story tears roll down her cheeks, and we feel our guts wrenching when we try to imagine the scene of crime in the jungle.

It has now been 12 years since the tragedy, and though the family is out of the bereavement; there is a black hole of emotional loss the family still grapples with. But Ranjita is living up to her name, and we are definite that she will light it up very soon.