I want to become an IAS officer

What’s generally on the minds of 12-year olds?

Studies? Friends? TV shows?

On the mind of Rubina, the 12-year old from Meerut, it is her father who was martyred in 2016. It was already hard on her that he stayed away from the family for months altogether, and now that he is no more she is distraught.

“But she hardly opens up about her feelings, not even to me”, her mother complains. “She feels sad that she could not see him for the last time, but she was only 10 years old. How could we show her such a sight?”, her mother asks us choking at the memory of the event. We are sitting with Rubina and her mother in the living room of their rented apartment where two more siblings of Rubina and her maternal uncle also stay. “We sent her to her uncle’s house as soon as we got the news”.

The conversation about her father clouds Rubina’s face as she sits quietly next to her mother. Nevertheless, she still tells us how much she enjoyed the barrack stories her father used to tell them, the trips to parks and markets they took when he came home, and how the family felt complete when he was around.

Post the tragedy Rubina became an introverted child; she doesn’t talk a lot and likes to surround herself with books. She studies in 7th grade at a nearby public school and enjoys Mathematics and finds its various formulae very interesting. “I like to study and want to become an IAS officer”, she reveals. It was her father who used to tell her to study hard and become a senior officer one day. She laments the lack of opportunities for extracurricular activities at a school. We understand her because school is the only place where she can feel like her age.

Back at home, she feels responsible for her younger siblings, and as the eldest daughter of the family, she takes care of everyone and especially her mother. “She breaks down quite often and I feel responsible to take care of her broken heart”, she tells us with a sense of calm. She is just 12 years old, we remind ourselves; the time when kids are supposed to run wild and free without a care in the world.

“I remember how my father used to take care of the family and I want to do the same. I study hard so that I can make my family proud”, she mentions with a determined look on her face.

“For that, she needs a good school and if by God’s grace our financial situation becomes better, by next year I want to enroll her in a good private school”, her mother puts in with hopeful eyes.