Reflections from Loss

Major Akshay Girish – Son, Hero, Martyr

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PART ONE

His Story; My Way

If a million questions were thrown at me for a mammoth memory test today, I would get the perfect score, so long as the subject is ‘Akshay Girish’.

I know my post said Akshay’s story would start with his birth but as I get down to writing this, my thoughts take me further down memory lane- to the time I was pregnant with our first child. It was 1985 and Girish and I were in Gorakhpur – a fairly large, typically backward Uttar Pradesh town bordering Nepal, and also an IAF base for new fighter squadrons.

The pregnancy had been a difficult one from day one. In my 6th month, after I was very ill with an un-diagnosed fever for over a month, haemoglobin had dropped to 6 gm and foetal heart was weak. The doctors, Girish and my parents had me shifted from Gorakhpur to Bangalore for further investigations and treatment.  At the Command Hospital in Bangalore, I started responding well to antibiotics. An ultrasound in my third trimester shocked us. I was carrying twins – something I didn’t know for 7 months! The Gynecologist patiently explained to me that I had to be immediately hospitalized for the reminder of my pregnancy because of PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension) and possible foetal distress. Inadequate blood supply was affecting the growth of one baby more than the other.

I had the best round-the-clock care in the Command hospital with foetal heart being monitored every 4 hours. When Dr. Dey told me that waiting for the full term would endanger the life of my baby, I asked no questions and reposed my complete trust in his judgement. He decided to terminate the pregnancy at 35 weeks and Neha and Akshay were safely delivered via a C Section on 6th Dec 1985 at around 8am.

aksneh-1

Having arrived a month early, both were low birth weight. However, the pediatrician designated Akshay (at just 1.7Kg) a ‘high-risk’ baby. Not only did he take long to cry at birth, he had no suck-and-swallow reflex, very red and delicate skin that kept peeling for weeks, barely any flesh covering his ribcage with extended gaps between the bones of his skull plates (fontanels’ –both anterior and posterior). Since he couldn’t be breastfed, the nurses used a nasal tube to feed Akshay while in hospital. By the time the three of us were finally allowed to leave for my parents home, I had spent 40 days in hospital. The nurses had taught me the art of expressing breast milk into a bottle fitted with a large-holed nipple. It took an hour to make sure that Akshay swallowed the 2 ounces of milk that slowly dropped into his mouth.

No one in the family had seen a baby as tiny as Akshay raja. He would be warmly bundled up and placed on the bed where he lay quietly for hours, his huge eyes mostly glued to the ceiling. He didn’t respond to us with baby noises, or smile to himself the way his twin did. He didn’t cry for milk and when we force-fed him, his regular diarrhea got worse because the digestive tract was so delicate. In 40 days, he hadn’t gained any weight and my mother, seeing me very distressed after the Pediatrician hinted at ‘developmental problems’, tuned in to Lord Balaji for Akshay’s well-being.

We also consulted a second Pediatrician at St. John’s Hospital. He, after stripping off every shred of cloth covering our skin and bone infant, took his time for a thorough examination and reassured us that Akshay was a normal infant. He gave me simple tips on how to feed and care for a low-birth weight and pre-term baby and told me to rely on my parental instincts when in doubt. He was like a Godsend and we were all very grateful for his calm reassurances.

Over the next two weeks, Akshay turned the corner and in just another month, our quiet little ‘Vivekananda-like’ baby metamorphosed into a noisy, attention loving, wanting-to-be- constantly-carried and spoken-to kind of infant. He was yelling for his milk, sucking hard at the bottle and gaining weight. Although his developmental milestones (turning over, sitting and crawling) were rather delayed in comparison with Neha, he became very playful and finally looked as cute as she did!

Just as our family began to relax and enjoy the twins as they reached out to each other and played in delightful-to-watch ways, Akshay, became ill with high fever and respiratory problems. He was diagnosed with broncho-pneumonia at five and half months and we were told his immune system was weak. Fortunately, he responded well to antibiotics and by 7 and half months, he was crawling around, following his sister and trying his best to catch up with her.

Akshay had started showing us his ‘I never-give-up’ fighting qualities.

then-2-copy

 

131 thoughts on “Reflections from Loss

  1. Grand Salute to my Braveheart Brother…! May his soul rest in eternal peace…
    Luv and thanks to you Mom for giving us such a strength & spirit …!

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  2. Dear Meghna..yet to see a braver mother than you…no wonder GoD chose you to be the mother of a brave heart,Akshya.
    This beautifully expressed post will indeed make Akshya a true person ,always living in the memories and hearts of all the readers.
    Bravo to a mother to pen the best tribute anyone can give,as you have made him a blood and flesh character for many of us who did not know him personally.
    Thank you.
    A Bengal sappers veterans wife.

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  3. Ma’am our heartfelt condolences.I rang my son who is a pilot in the Indian Air Force and posted in Udhampur last week. He did not reply and late rang me in the evening. He said he and his wife had gone to Jammu to bid final adieu to his friend( Akshay), a coursemate from NDA who was from same Squadron- Kilo. He was very depressed about the sad demise and it took me a lot of time to console him. I understand your feeling and pray to God to give you all the strength to bear the loss.
    Col S K Dogra
    KILO- 50th

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  4. Hi Meghna.
    May God give you all the strength and courage to go through this great loss.

    Please accept my deepest and most heartfelt condolences. Akshay and his family are in my prayers tonight. And every night.

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  5. Salute to your courage and will ma’am. We are proud of Major Akshay while we all mourn for the irreparable loss. We don’t know each other but I have my only brother in army serving in kashmir these days. Words are too shallow for your loss. Keep going ma’am.

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  6. My clearest and fondest memories of Akshay and Neha are as the beautiful tiny babies you described above. I distinctly remember visiting you in the command hospital and being amazed at how beautiful you looked – glowing in a lovely grey salwar. I remember visiting the babies when you brought them home. You always said that Akshay will be a sage or a philosopher when he grows up as he is always thinking. I have never been shaken by a loss so much as this – maybe because we can’t bear the thought of losing our youngsters and I have held him as a baby. Ever since I heard about it, I have been thinking about Akshay and you constantly. I have read every article and news story and post about him trying to make sense of it. Chinni please keep writing. His story needs to told and revered for posterity. Look forward to reading the rest – Love, hugs and prayers

    Vasu Srivathsava

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  7. Dear Meghna,
    By taking to pen, you have brought Akshay back to life in our hearts and minds as we get to know more about his brave spirit even as a baby. My salutations to this young man who we are so proud to be associated with even remotely. You and your family must feel so honoured for what he has sacrificed. The loss is irreparable, and I know you have accepted it with much fortitude. May God give you the strength to heal in time.

    Sarala

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  8. May he rest in peace. He truly was a fighter, you too are very brave ma’am. Only a woman as brave as you can give birth to such warriors. Proud to have such women in our country. 🙂

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  9. Thank you for sharing Akshay’s story Meghna. I live across the world in the US and came to know about Akshay’s martyrdom from my Kumaran’s friends on whatsapp. Am a Kumaranite myself but many years senior to him and that was the first I was ever hearing about him and had never known him before. But still, i teared up a lot when i saw his pictures along with his beautiful family. What a tragedy. May God give you all – especially his wife (they seemed so much in love!), the strength to bear this loss. Wish this had never happened. Looking forward to reading more about him and why he decided to join the Army and if as a mother you ever maybe tried to dissuade him. Being a mom to two teenagers I can tell that kids can have a strong will to do what they want and I find myself sometimes discouraging them from taking up certain careers etc. Would love to hear if you all had such differences as well. Hugs. Take Care.

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    • Thank you Sashi- Akshay and Sangeeta have been an inspirational couple- ‘made for each other’ is how its said? She is doing him proud. You take care too.

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  10. Our heartfelt condolences .The piece you have written about your son is beautiful and heart-rending especially when we know how difficult it must be to write it. May God give you all the strength to bear this loss

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  11. Dear Ma’am
    No words are appropriate to comfort the loss… Have been following Maj Akshay since the unfortunate event but could not get myself to write to you… No words will be enough to comfort the loss…

    My father was in the AirForce and being a part of the closely knit fauji family, every loss of our bravehearts makes one feel like its a personal loss… May the bravehearts live on forever, in the hearts of our nation… May the sacrifice be valued by all…

    May we, as a country wake up to the fact that our FREEDOM should not be taken for granted, it’s costing us our Soldiers, who also are someone’s son, brother, husband and father.

    Lastly, May you and the family get the strength to accept the loss of a braveheart… We are proud of Maj Akshay…

    Beat rgds
    Nidhi

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  12. As a new mother myself I can completely relate to your story from Akshay’a birth. I cannot imagine the pain and loss you are going through. I salute you, Akshay and your family for the sacrifice.

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  13. Dear Meghna,
    Akshy, your proud son , proud son of INDIA,
    He gave all that he got, so that we may live in peace.
    GOD BLESS YOU and your family.
    Love ❤️ you all.
    PADDY MENON.

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  14. Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.

    ~ Rumi
    Dear Meghna, you are a very brave mom of a very brave son. It must have taken a lot of courage to write this but it shows what a fighter Akshay was from his birth.
    May his soul rest in peace and may God give you all the strength to bear this irreparable loss.

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  15. Poignant and brave. We share your loss and salute your boy. It is because of officers like Akshay that millions of Indians sleep in peace. Many will tell you about the futility of what is going, but this is a war with a difference where civilized societies and democracies will continue to bleed in the face of extremism and terrorism. His story along with many others who make the supreme sacrifice in such operations must be told.

    Rhino Historian

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  16. Dear Meghna Ma’am

    My ex colleague and her husband ( Anubha and KARTHIK) are in Nagrota too. KARTHIK is Akshay’s colleague. I came to know from them how fine a gentleman and soldier was your son Akshay. He indeed was a braveheart. But it needs immense courage to be like you. I salute both of you. My heart goes out to the entire family. Have seen lovely photos of your son with his wife and kid. Hope she and all of you at home have strength to go through this
    Difficult time. Take care and thanks for this write up.

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  17. Meghana, it’s hard to believe this void left behind but we are so proud of him, I still remember how he called once after he was commissioned and passing through Delhi. A young lieutenant with his backpacks and squash racket visited us and spent few lovely hours with us , entertaining us with his stories from IMA. Thereafter, I saw him at his wedding. Please keep the story going Meghna, it would be lovely to know the life lived by our young braveheart.

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  18. Thank you for sharing Akshay’s story Meghna. I live across the world in the US and came to know about Akshay’s martyrdom from my Kumaran’s friends on whatsapp. Am a Kumaranite myself but many years senior to him and that was the first I was ever hearing about him and had never known him before. But still, i teared up a lot when i saw his pictures along with his beautiful family. đứng lên ngồi xuống đau đầu gối What a tragedy. May God give you all – especially his wife (they seemed so much in love!), the strength to bear this loss. Wish this had never happened. Looking forward to reading more about him and why he decided to join the Army and if as a mother you ever maybe tried to dissuade him. Being a mom to two teenagers I can tell that kids can have a strong will to do what they want and I find myself sometimes discouraging them from taking up certain careers etc. đá nhân tạo Would love to hear if you all had such differences as well. Hugs. Take Care.

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  19. Dear Meghna,
    It’s me Dr.De who helped you to bring Akshay and Neha into this world. I really do not know what to write at this moment please accept our heartfelt condolence. May God give your strength to bear this irreparable loss.
    Dr. De & Mrs. De

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    • Thank you Dr. Dey. So glad you reached out …..3 decades after doing your best to give us Akshay and Neha safe and well. He has been perfect and flawless.

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  20. A very brave mom n salute your son. I read about it in the papers/tv
    I can imagine the anguish n pain the family is going through. My condolences to the family

    Went through your blog so touching I can only say god bless and may his soul rest in peace Sunila joshi. Noida

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  21. Brave mother …braver son, Akshay..Salutes to you.
    Girish and Meghana, your courageous words will surely inspire many of us to live without FEAR.
    Let’s know if we can be of any help in these tough times.

    —AVM Vikas Yajurvedi

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  22. Dear Meghna, we have never met but have heard about you and Girish through common friends. We can feel your deep sense of pain, loss and pride and pray for strength and peace for all of you and may God rest Akshays soul in peace. God bless Rohit and nidhi

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  23. Dear Ma’am,
    We been following Maj Akshay since the unfortunate event hence wanted to pen to your family, for the supreme sacrifice at the alter made by May Akshay and your family … No words will be enough to comfort the loss… very touched by your memoir….

    I was just remembering the quotes of Abraham Lincoln …which i want to share during this moment.

    “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours very sincerely and respectfully, Abraham Lincoln.”

    Looking forward to the rest of blog…

    Thanking you,
    Akshita D , Usha D, D K Kumar

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  24. Ma’am
    Your blog has made us feel and live every moment. A brave officer that he was we are very proud of him. I am defence wife too and my husband being ex nda belongs to Kilo rather Killers squadron.. Sorry for your loss. Salute yo you.
    Dr Manju and Lt Cdr Sunil Patil

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  25. Ma’am
    Your blog has made us feel and live every moment. A brave officer that he was we are very proud of him. I am defence wife too and my husband being ex nda belongs to Kilo rather Killers squadron.. Sorry for your loss. Salute yo you.
    Dr Manju and Lt Cdr Sunil Patil

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  26. Dear Ma’am,

    Akshay is a superhero born to a supermom. I am so immensely proud of him, though I haven’t had the good fortune of meeting him. I served the navy for 23 yrs and work with Harisenani sir at Global Vectra. May God bless you, I am sure akshay is smiling down from the blue skies above.
    Most respectfully,
    KPS

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  27. Meghana, very shocked and saddened to hear about Akshay! My deepest condolences to you and rest of the family! Read your beautifully written blog. Deepest respect.

    Manisha (Pune)

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  28. Namaste,

    I have been following Major Akshay Girish Kumar’s story from the day he was martyred. Maam, we don’t know each other personally but somehow feel so connected to you by your writings.

    Everytime I see a soldier, my heart swells with pride and my hand goes on its own accord to salute. There’s a sense of pride and respect that fills our heart the moment we see a soldier. Major Girish was a soldier in the true sense and we all are proud of him. We the countrymen remain highly indebted for the supreme sacrifice that the young soldier has made.

    Would love to know more about Major Akshay as a son, brother, husband, father, friend, comrade and above all a true citizen and a soldier. I truly admire you for having drawn strength to pen the words going down the memory lane, at this time of utmost grief the family is going through. This also says where this young soldier drew all the strength, courage and drive from. A Big salute to the ‘Mother’ in you.

    We as a nation stand by you and your family Maam and pray that the almighty give you the strength and courage to overcome the grief and irrevocable loss.

    He will remain to be an inspiration for the younger generation to forge toward a career in Armed force.

    Salute to Major Akshay Girish Kumar.

    Jai Hind!!!

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    • Thank you very much Kavitha- such support means a lot to us as a family. Even as we are unimaginably proud of Akshay’s martyrdom while protecting our motherland, the sorrow of personal loss is testing our strength. Do take care and continue to stand with the Armed Forces. Jai Hind!

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  29. dear ms meghna……every kid is special for a teacher and with great pride i can share happy memories as akshay and neha as my students at sri kumarans…..i salute the deep sentiments you have shared through your memoirs…it is indeed heart wrenching to have lost such a young soul but i am sure the young hero has inspired many a heart during his short but steady journey on earth….extremely sad that i have to write to you the first time after such a long time…but at the same time happy that god gave me this opportunity to connect with you …god bless you and your family and may Major Akshay inspire scores of youngsters to live life in the true spirit of straightforwardness and courage…..lots of love to each one of you and take care…!!

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    • Thank you Geeta maam. You have also guided Akshay and Neha and we are grateful for that. Akshay is inspirational- a young hero and martyr who was flawless. Love and regards to you and best wishes to your family.

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  30. A Tribute to Maj. Akshay Girish

    I salute your FATHER
    due to his nobleness
    my Father gets to lean on his sons shoulder

    I salute your MOTHER
    due to her strength
    my Mother gets to embrace her son

    I salute your GRANDPARENTS
    due to their blessings
    my Grandparents can coddle their grandsons

    I salute your SISTER
    due to her unimaginable loss
    I get to banter with my brother

    I salute your WIFE
    due to her unselfish love
    I get to caress my love

    I salute your DAUGHTER
    due to her immense sacrifice
    my Children get to play with their Dad

    Above all I salute you
    idue to your bravery & steadfast devotion to the nation
    I get to wake up every morning

    We must never forget that sacrifices of our soldiers and their families make it possible for us to enjoy our Present, and for our Children to live their Future

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  31. Meghna,Sorry,I don’t remember you from my Air Force days but the Umbilical can never be severed.I have consoled many a young wives on the loss of their soulmates But for you and Girish I am short of WORDS but not my heartfelt sympathy and a quiet prayer.May He give the whole family the strength. Please keep me posted.LOVE. Aruna Sareen.

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    • Thank you for reaching out with your concern and prayers for us Aruna. I do hope we can find that strength. Not sure if we were together while Girish was in the IAF. Your name is familiar- maybe common friends? Love to you. Take care.

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  32. Meghna aunt,
    I am so proud to have known you and Capt Girish sir and had the privilege to stay in the same apartment and grow up with Akshay. Me and Akshay did have the best of times playing in the garden of Casa Ansals. The memory is so fresh. The journey to see Akshay grow and be Major Akshay Girish has not only made us but the entire country proud. You have been the driving force holding Neha and Akshay together and showing them the true meaning of life. Very proud of you.

    Regards
    Capt Mohit Goyal

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    • Dear Mohit, thank you for reaching out over Akshay’s martyrdom. I remember you as kids in Casa Ansals. yes, Akshay has made us and our nation proud and saved many precious lives. That gives us much needed solace in our painful loss. God bless you and your family. Take care

      Like

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