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.

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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.

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132 thoughts on “Reflections from Loss

  1. Hi
    I have always known you as Meghna ma’m through my brother-in-law Anirban. While I look forward to your blog posts to learn about our hero…I personally salute this effort of yours.
    May the Almighty give you and your family strength now and always…
    Heartfelt regards
    Anupam

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  2. Saluting the Hero….Yes we are proud….But it is still heart rending to see such a young life attaining martyrdom…Praying for the Soul and for God to give strength to the family…Jai Hind

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  3. Beautiful piece! Having known Neha for a long time now (through Beckman), and having met you all only once at her Sangeet, it is lovely to be able to live your journey through these word pictures. More power to you, Uncle, Neha, Sangeeta, and Naina!

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  4. Waiting to read the rest. I don’t know you but we are connected. The fauj, Gorakhpur where my young son was posted…You are in our thoughts. Respect. Pankaja

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  5. Beautifully expressed. You made me journey along with you in those difficult times. I’m a grand mother now, so can relate to most of what you have shared. Please keep writing and share Akshay with us – who unfortunately we never met. A handsome young man – my heart breaks along with yours !!

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  6. Cannot wait to know more , feel more…..I think having given birth to a baby recently, I can relate to each word written here……Even after the amazing( healthy) start, we were at a point when we had almost lost Jiyara to dehydration when she was arnd 15 days old….But then, she fought her way back to life…..Pray and Hope she too becomes a SheRo someday…..is already one for me just like Mj Akshay is for you since the beginning …..and now for all of us….Love , Hope and Prayers…Radz

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  7. Dear Mrs. Meghna, I chanced upon your FB post where you had mentioned writing about your son, Maj. Akshay.

    Firstly, please accept my heartfelt condolences. There is nothing I can possibly say or write that will reduce the pain that you must feel as a mother, for words are quite inadequate in the face of such events in life. I can only imagine, from being a mother myself, what this may be like.

    However, I dared to write today because I felt that is the least I could do when you have shown exemplary courage & spirit in reliving your moments with your son & sharing it with us, intensely personal though they are.

    I hope to be able to live my life with this uncommon courage & spirit…the resilience of the kinds that are spoken of in stories but rarely seen in person.

    My prayers & love to you and all your family members.

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  8. For me this is personal too since I was very fond of Akshay in the school . I wanted his to be a day scholar as I felt he would not be able to handle the dorm life but he refused to abandon the dorm for a better life . Salute him for ever and now he is my hero

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    • If he could read this, will be grinning ear to ear ! We parents know how much you cared about Akshay and all the boys in school. Take care.

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  9. Bravo he was meghna aunty .
    Salute to all of you .
    Showing such grace n dignity at such delicate times of life even then n now., salute to all ones again .
    You all will always b in my prayers n God will definatly bestow u all with lot of strength n love n blessings from all possible means n ways .
    God bless.
    Love you all loads.

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  10. Wow! A strong Caesar! Yes madam, the flashes of self confidence and commitment has come through your narrative.
    Can’t wait for the next part.
    Wonderfully penned. Jai ho Veer mata.

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  11. Beautifully described..!! Our prayers are with you & your beautiful family & we pray that god gives you all courage enough to come out of this huge loss..!!! He was a hero & he will always b in our hearts..!! Salute to Maj. Akshay Girish & salute to u & ur family mam..!! God bless u all..!! Jai Hind..!!

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  12. You left the story so abruptly just as he went away from this world . Please tell his growing years & more . Yes -he was a born fighter !
    May Akshay ‘s soul rest in peace 🙏 May God bless you with strength to bear this unbearable loss 🙌

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  13. Very nice aunty…i had sent u an message on messenger but as u r not there so would like to tell I that as I belong to lucknow a resident of lucknowand as I heard about major akshay i can’t express myself..we had never known to each other not our families ..i asked my mother also why am I feeling so she said ..kuch logo se hamara attachment apne aap ho jata hai…aunty I would also like to know more…

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  14. Dear Meghna, the courage your Akshay displayed was surely inherited from you. Tomorrow, 6 December, would have been his birthday and I can understand how a mother’s heart must be grieving. To be able to write about your jigar ka tukda in such detail must be heartrending and cathartic at the same time. I salute you, dear lady!

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  15. Our deepest condolences for the huge loss Aunty. This blog will definitely help us in knowing more about Maj Akshay. I could relate a lot to this post being a mum of twins myself. No words can ever express the sacrifice that he has made. My father too being from the bengal sappers and knowing Sangeeta parents personally was deeply hurt after listening to the news. The entire nation is proud of him.

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  16. Dear aunty,
    Never met maj akshay or your family but I somehow feel connected to your family. I also come from defence background and how I wish if we could all turn bk time..

    May god give you and your family all the strength at this time of grief.
    Every mother in this world can connect in some way or the other to your story.
    Looking forward to learn more about maj akshay..

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  17. Your strength and your resolve is exemplary..even the gods in heaven would pay tribute to the noble soul..your writing about his life will not let him be a stranger for us any more..you will immortalize him.. His memory will be etched in our mind for times to come..a very brave initiative of a brave mother.. Hats off to you_/\_

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  18. Dear Meghna Aunty,
    Having studied and spent my childhood days with Akshay at Military School knowing more about him feels so good. I could not have asked for a better writeup about our HERO.
    He will stay alive in our hearts forever.

    Anant

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  19. Meghna…. reminiscing old times is hard, but this must be harder…. Your son had grit then as a new born baby…..have a lump in my throat….yet want to read and be a part of your journey …..hugs

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  20. Namashkar mam
    Its tarun
    Girish’s friend from the army
    Halanki humari bahut zyada interation nai hui during our training
    Fir bhi ek wakeyat bahut ache se yaad hai mujhe
    Humari training ke baad hum orientation course ke liye roorkee gaye the
    Humein ek din commandant address ke liye bulaya gaya
    Hum thode ghabraye hue the
    Pata bai kyun
    Apni combats pehenke hum auditorium mein chale gaye
    Comdt ke ane se pehle humara dress inspection hua
    I clearly remember ki girish ne bade hi taste ke sath silwayi hui combats pehni thi
    Uski berret belt trouser shoes
    Shayad authorisation se zyada smart lag raha tha
    But as i see now he had a taste for clothes
    Us din usko adjt ke dwara point out kiya gaya tha.
    Shayd us waqt mere sath thite baitha tha
    And hum hansne lage

    Mujhe laga toh maine share kiya
    Mam m leaving my mobile number here
    09419231398
    Mein leh mein posted hun
    Always with you
    Amen

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  21. It ws so emotional reading all ….. no words cn fill this irreparable loss. …. accept my deepest condolences. … may almighty give strength to u all. ….. luk fwd to read further

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  22. Beautiful memories. Eagerly waiting for the next episode. Still remember the pic where Neha and Akshay were pictured in front of NY Twin towers.

    So proud of Akshay!

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  23. Dear Meghna my heart felt condolences to you and the family ….. we are indeed very proud of Akshay and the courage he displayed he will always hold a special place in our heart . God must have a plan for him may his soul rest in peace .My daughter Ankita is a friend of Neha and hence feel a special bond ….. May God give you and the family the strength to bear the loss .

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  24. Mam, all I can do is salute you. Salute THE son of our soil. Very heart touching narrative. JAI hind.
    Thanks for sharing. I’ll continue to follow.
    A fellow citizen.

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  25. Akshay is a born fighter and will remain a hero forever…I salute him and u, dear Meghna ,for showing exemplary courage .Ur narration touched the inner soul
    ….Can feel ur anguish as a mother…U are a blessed mother! Stand strong …Hari om

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  26. Thank you Meghna for taking us back to 1985 by sharing the story. Waiting to read more. May God give you the strength to relive those beautiful days through your writing.

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  27. Our deepest condolences to you and all the family members. Ever since we got the news on the night of 29th, you all have been in our prayers. Anand Devadas my elder son was Akshay’s classmate in BMS from 7th to 10th and my younger son Amol one year his junior. Anand was in touch with him regularly. We were in Amritsar on the 22nd Nov and Akshay had messaged him on the 23rd to find out if we had plans of coming ahead upto Jammu. Suddenly after a week we get this news which was really shattering. We are in Manipal and Akshay, Neha and Dhruv had visited us few years back. We pray for God’s blessings on you all and peace and comfort in your heart as you mourn the loss of your dear, brave son.

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  28. Hello Mrs Meghna, our heartfelt condolences and salute to a brave mother for writing so beautifully about her ‘ never say die spirited son’. I was his teacher at ‘Rashtria Military School’, Bangalore. May his soul rest in peace and be an inspiration to all the young officers in the Services.

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  29. Hello Mrs Meghna our heartfelt condolences to you and your family and salute to a brave mother for writing so beautifully about her ‘ Never say die spirited’ son. I was his teacher at Rashtria Military School, Bangalore. May his soul rest in peace and I am sure his martyrdom will be an inspiration to all young officers of the Defence forces.

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  30. My sincere wishes brave mother of a braveheart. 6 Dec is my birthday too and tomorrow I will light an extra candle for Akshay.
    Peace be to you and family. Take care.

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  31. So happy to know about him. U have recreated it without fading away its beauty. The magical touch u have given is mindblowing that i am imagining Akshay Sir as a little baby.
    We want to know each and every section of Akshay Sir’s life .
    Thank you mam for giving us such an opportunity .

    Like

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