Ria grew up listening to stories of the time her father fought the Kargil war of 1999. She was born in her hometown in Tezpur, Assam when he was fighting in Kargil. It was always a proud moment when she narrated stories of her father’s heroics to her friends and cousins for the 1999 war, and she was always thankful that he came back home safe to become the best father ever.

But life played a cruel joke and 8 years after she lost her father in his native land at the hands of the ULFA, the rebel outfit from Assam. It has been 10 years since the tragedy but the 18-year old narrates her memories of him like they happened yesterday.

“My Papa was the best“, she says with a twinkle in her eyes. “I remember the time he took us to watch a fountain show and because I was too little he propped me up on his shoulders so that I could have a good view, it was a very happy moment for me“, she says with a smile on her face. She clearly remembers the times he took her out around the town on his motorcycle and plucked fruits from trees for them to eat together. He was her comfort and the person who pampered her the most.

“Ria was in trauma for a few months after the tragedy“, her mother recounts. The girl who liked to dance and sing (she participated in many local dance performances) withdrew into a shell and became a quiet person, her mother tells us with sorrow. She developed anxiety and became protective of her mother and her dear ones. It was sketching and books that healed her over time, and thanks to her mother, the 8 – year old girl whose heart was broken is today a smiling teenager with dreams in her eyes.

Her goal is to become a civil servant, the most coveted position in India. She tells us that like her father she wants to serve the nation and leave a legacy behind. The young lady secured good marks in her 12th exams and is looking forward to pursuing Graduation in Humanities. It is her mother’s grief that although Ria fared well in her exams owing to financial constraints Ria cannot attend a better college in a metropolitan city where she would get bigger opportunities.

But that’s not a big deal for Ria. “I am happy to be close to Ma and study in a good college in Assam, it is not the college but the studies that matter“, she says smiling at her mother. The bond the mother-daughter share is unmissable; in fact, Ria considers her mother to be her best friend.

When you meet the young lady there are three words that come to your mind – positivity, resilience and determination, and these are no run-off-the-mill traits for an 18-year-old. She is the daughter of a father who fought at the border with courage, of a mother who rebuilt herself after a frightful tragedy, and together that makes her a fighter who will fight her way to success.