Lucknow: At his age, teenagers loaf around and look for fun and adventure. Not so for the 16-year-old Arsh Ali.
He not only makes sketches without an eraser in one go, has a solo exhibition to his credit at the tender age of four, has given lectures in ancient and modern history to post-graduate students at Allahabad university and is now dabbling in archaeology, making him possibly the youngest Indian to do so.
He has already spent some days at two excavation sites in the country and is now taking his "pursuit for knowledge" much deeper after the Arcahelogical Survey of India (ASI) has allowed him to be part of excavation teams. Talking to IANS at his home, he chirps like a young man possessed by history and the field of archaeology.
He has been part of excavation research at a site (still undisclosed by ASI) in search of the Indus Valley Civilization.
He said the site appeared to him as an "artisans hub" as there were no dwellings that were discovered there. Having discovered terracota beads, copper bangles, gold beads and many other artifacts from the site, which is near the Laila-Majnu ki Mazaar, the boy tells you in detail of his findings.
Another excavation that he has been part of is at Rakhigarhi in Haryana's Hissar district. Spread over 350 hectares, Arsh informs this was a protected site which was most likely a graveyard as many a graves have been unearthed there.
The excavation is being supervised by experts of Pune's Deccan College.
His mother Fatima Ali, who has been the rock of support and encouragement for Arsh since the childhood prodigy emerged, said that Chinese experts who were here last month had lauded her son for his "indepth knowledge about history".
"It is indeed heartening for us to be parents of such a genius," Faisal Ali, his father, who runs a tour and travel business in the state capital, said.
As Arsh plays with his pet guinea pig that he dotes on, he takes you around his study, which is packed with books on various religions, mythology, history, languages and other subjects.
Gesturing towards his study table where he has stacked up the finds of his excavations, Arsh said e wants to know everything life offers him.
"I don't want to divide knowledge into names of subjects. For me, it is about the quest to attain knowledge," he said with a glint in his eyes.
Incidentally this teenager is perhaps the only person in a country of over 1.2 billion who knows and has mastered writing and reading Hieroglyphics, an ancient Egyptian script of symbols. Only 200 people across the globe hold a degree in the subject.
He has wowed his school teachers by getting a 4 on 5 at the Advanced Placement (AP) test conducted by American varsities and by becoming the youngest Indian to have done so.
Keep digging Arsh and unlocking the mysteries of history that lie beneath!
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)