When Sreenath was told that his father has gone to God’s home and would not be returning for a long while he cried for days. He was only seven but knew what going to God’s house meant; it did not mean that his father had gone to Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu, like the time the entire family went to the holy shrine on foot (but Sreenath was perched on his father’s strong shoulders). It meant that his father was martyred in the heaven on earth, Kashmir, the place he was posted.

Recollecting his visit to Kashmir to meet his father a short while before his martyrdomSreenath, now 14, says, “For the first time I saw the significance of the job my father did for the country and that made me very proud. We visited his camp, met his friends, went to Army museums and loved every bit of beautiful Kashmir. I did not imagine that the place where my family created such happy memories would be the place which would take my father away”.

After the tragedy, naturally, Sreenath and his brother looked out for their mother for love and support. But life had other plans, and after three years of her husband’s death, she expired as well. At 10 years of age, Sreenath became an orphan with a younger sibling to take care of. Thankfully, his uncles stepped in and took the kids under their wing.

Today Sreenath stays with his grandparents and studies in 10th standard at a local school. He studies hard and particularly enjoys Mathematics and Science. When asked about his ambition, he says he aspires to become a doctor to serve his country by helping people in need. “I am inspired by my father’s bravery and want to contribute to the nation like him”, he says with a bright smile. To this end, his guardians plan to send him to Kota or Jaipur for further studies. Although money is scarce – his father’s pension money is on hold until he turns 18 – his guardians are doing the best they can to give a good education to Sreenath.

Although Sreenath lost his strongest pillars at such a definitive point of his life, it is his calm and responsible attitude that we observe with marvel. He flashes his sweet smile and speaks protectively of his younger sibling and lovingly of his late parents, who he misses every day. “I want to make them proud and encourage my sister to do the same”, he says with one his signature smiles.