Major Akshay Girish- Son, Hero, Martyr

His Story; My Way

11-eleven

PART THREE

Yesterday (11th December) was a very emotional day. So many of us came together at our home and celebrated the life and martyrdom of our son Major Akshay Girish. From his sister and brother to schoolmates and course-mates, from family members to family friends, from long –time buddies to more recent acquaintances, from two of his COs (Commanding Officers) to his Subedar Major Saab, we heard of so many wonderful facets to Akshay’s personality and values. As people voiced their experiences with Akshay, narrated through stories of dedication to duty, some funny anecdotes, and specific instances when he acted on his innate compassion for fellow citizens facing difficult times, our Akshay, with his charming lopsided smile and twinkle in the eye came alive. Many were so choked, they couldn’t speak and tears flowed freely. We thought we knew our wonderful son well, but yesterday, we were taught how much more there was to him.

There could have been no better way to pay tribute to a martyr.

It is with very mixed emotions of pain, pride and gratitude that I try to continue telling his story. The grey weepy skies match my inner mood, although I try to remain calm and stoic on the outside.

In Bidar, I was offered a lecturer’s position at the College of Pharmacy and 15 year old ‘Bhavani didi’ stepped in as a daycare-nanny for the twins. Bidar then did not have a playschool and so Akshay and Neha started LKG at the Air Force School a little younger than their classmates. Unlike Neha, Akshay was reluctant to go to school and when he saw the school bus, he would cling to me and tearfully say ‘mein kal chala jaoonga (I will go tomorrow)’. This was a daily ritual for almost a month. I had to extricate myself from his wiry arms wound around my neck and his bony legs wrapped around my waist and somehow put him onto the bus.  He would then hold on to little Neha’s hand and bawl until the bus moved out. Each day he returned from school with a very happy smile and lots of chatter as he proudly showed off his handy-work with alphabets and numbers and his drawing and colouring books.

Before Girish started Staff College in Wellington (in the Nilgiris, near Ooty), Akshay and Neha got to spend a month at my parents’ home with their cousin Dhruv. At 13 days apart, they were such a playful trio that entertainment for us adults was never in short supply! As they say, each child is unique and Akshay, though tinier and weaker than others his age, was strangely unafraid. He was unafraid of strangers, of sleeping alone, or of venturing by himself in the dark.  All visitors were first greeted with a cheery ‘hello uncle/hello aunty’ by Akshay while the other two kids took longer to make their presence known. And at night, Dhruv and Neha who were afraid of the dark would call out for little Akshay. He would coolly walk through a long, dark passage, no questions asked, and put on the light at the other end so that they could use the bathroom!

Akshay was naughty innocence, trust and courage at a very young age. He was also never afraid to lead the way.

One year in Wellington was a very memorable time for us and our four and a half year old twins. The kids loved our home on top of the steep Gorkha hill, the cool weather with daily pony rides and they made many new friends. They were also re-united with Gorakhpur playmate -Arjun.

Akshay and Arjun were as competitive as they were close. One day, as Pooja and I watched over the kids playing in the park, the two boys got onto adjacent swings and as they started swinging, their competition for the day started with Arjun stating ‘mere papa tere papa se jyaada strong hain (my papa is stronger than your papa)’. Never one to give up, Akshay rebutted with ‘mere papa tere papa se jyaada tez plane chalate hain(my papa flies his plane faster than your papa does)’. The competition heated up with ‘meri mummy car chala sakti hai(my mummy can drive a car)’ to ‘mere paas meri red car hai(I have my own red car)’ and so on until Akshay came up with ‘meri dadi apne daaant nikaal kar dabbe mein rakh sakti hai (my grandmother can pull out all her teeth and place them in a box)’! Arjun lost the competition that day while we were in splits. He however returned the next evening, running towards the twins and shouting happily ‘Akshay, meri dadi bhi kar sakti hai (Akshay, my grandma can also do it)’!!

As Akshay and Arjun hugged each other in glee, we learn an important lesson. Its okay to be competitive but don’t let that get in the way of your friendship or any other relationship.

By the time our twins celebrated their 5th birthday, Akshay had come a long way in terms of catching up with Neha. His teacher in DSSC School, a fairly elderly Mrs Lopez, was very patient and really good for him. She always told us not to compare Akshay’s grades with Neha’s and in his report card wrote ‘Akshay has tried hard to do his best’. He was very good at spelling and language but made mistakes in tests involving numbers – the math sums and tables.  He still didn’t eat easily or independently and I spent a lot of time making sure he ate enough. Akshay didn’t like chewing on his food so much of it needed to be soft and smooth which meant upma without vegetables, dal without tomatoes and custard without fruit!  Every few months, just as I would feel he had gained some weight and looked really cute, Akshay would pick up an infection, usually related to the respiratory tract. He would go down with a high fever and that little weight gain would be gone in no time.

One day, Akshay came home after school with a few rashes and I thought some plant or insect may have been responsible. I applied some calamine lotion and he seemed sleepy so tucked him into bed. In less than an hour and half, his rashes had spread and all joints – elbow, wrist, groin, knee and ankles had become an angry, swollen red. His face was puffing up at an alarming rate and he wasn’t really responding to me trying to wake him up. When I pulled him out of bed, he couldn’t bend his knees or elbows and his big eyes where thin slits in his swollen face. Our skinny boy was easily double his size and it was really scary.  Girish gathered Neha and we rushed him to the hospital where a pediatrician swung into action. Akshay was unnaturally quiet and put up no resistance as needles were pushed into veins and an oxygen mask was put in place. We were told he had had a hypersensitivity reaction to some food he may have eaten. Seems sea food could cause such serious, life threatening allergies. If that was indeed the case, being egg- vegetarian at home, he must have shared another child’s lunch box at school. Put on life saving steroids and anti-allergy drugs it was a slow recovery for Akshay from what could have been a serious threat and we were so thankful to see him discharged his usual self after 5 days in hospital.

After Girish completed the year-long staff course, the four of us took a ‘drive down vacation’ and drove all the way from Bangalore to Gorakhpur in an old blue Premier Padmini. We started early each day with the twins bundled into the car’s back seat as they slept and reached a town enroute by lunch-time or so. A hot bath, a long nap and some sightseeing rounded off each night halt. In 14 days, we travelled through a longish route (Bangalore- Kurnool- Hyderabad-Adilabad-Nagpur- Jabalpur- Kanha National Park- Reva-Varanasi-Gorakhpur), spending 2 nights in Hyderabad and 3 nights in Kanha. That road trip on posting-cum-vacation with our twins under six years of age is among our most treasured memories. Decades later, Akshay still loved talking about the fun we had had as a family.

Despite completing UKG in DSSC School, to get into class one in Gorakhpur, the twins had to write an ‘entrance test’. As part of the English test, a teacher drew some objects on the black board and the kids had to identify each object and spell it correctly. Most objects were 3 or 4 letter words but Akshay was creative and so, instead of ‘bag’, he wrote ‘purse’ and the teacher marked it wrong!! Akshay argued it was correct because the bag looked like his mother’s purse and eventually, the teacher had to relent!

He never gave up when he believed he was right and convincingly argued his case.

As young parents, despite being responsible and careful, we almost lost Akshay in a railway station when he was just 7 years old. After a month’s summer break, we were returning by train from Bangalore to Gorakhpur. Since there was no direct train in 1992-93, we had to transit via Jhansi with a few hours stop-over and catch a connecting train from Jhansi to Gorakhpur.

At Jhansi, our family was split into two because Girish couldn’t sit in the Ladies waiting room and the men’s waiting room was too full for aunty(My mother-in-law) and me. So while we both sat in the Ladies waiting room with some of our luggage, Girish had the rest with him in the Gent’s waiting room.  The two waiting rooms were almost adjacent to each other and the twins kept moving from one to the other. All of a sudden, Girish found out that the connecting train had arrived at a distant platform. Most of the luggage was piled onto a pull cart and aunty, Neha and I hurried behind the porters who pushed it rather fast to reach the other platform well in time. We had to walk a really long distance, get down a long flight of stairs and up another, thereby crossing multiple tracks before we reached the correct platform. Girish arrived alone with more bags a few minutes later and my heart  stopped when I saw Akshay wasn’t with him! He was equally shocked- thinking Akshay and Neha were both with us. He raced back to the Men’s waiting room where a very upset Akshay – eyes filled with unshed tears- was waiting at the entrance. For me, 25 minutes that day seemed the longest, most painful wait, filled with scary thoughts of children being lost forever.

Over all the years since, Girish has never forgotten the look Akshay gave his father, nor the words; ‘Papa, aap mujhe chod kar chale kaise gaye’ (Papa how did you leave without me)?

Now, Im trying very hard to push the thought out but it keeps coming back- ‘Akshay, tum hamein chod kar kyon chale gaye(Akshay, why did you leave us and go away)?’

56 thoughts on “Major Akshay Girish- Son, Hero, Martyr

  1. This part 3 is too good as narration and brought tears pouring in me. AT SOME TIME YOUR MEMORIES, YOUR STORIES AND ADVENTURES WILL BE THE ONLY THINGS YOU’LL HAVE LEFT BUT WE SHOULD NOT GET STUCK ANYWHERE. REMAIN FLOWING LIKE A RIVER. Megna — some intuition I have that Akshay will also reply you soon in a mysterious manner.

    Like

  2. Heartbreaking it is every time I read what you pen down yet I wait for the next write up. Do keep sharing Mrs Girish . It’s really horrible that you lost your precious child but we are all so proud of his brave sacrifice. May God bless your family with inner peace.

    Like

  3. Feeling so touched,Ma,am.Major Akshay Girish is a real hero.Hats off to the proud parents.Nation can never ever forget his bravery n sacrifice.🙏🙏

    Like

    • Hope so Nitu Kapoor. With the support of friends like you, we as a family would like Akshay and other bravehearts to be recognised for their bravery and sacrifice.

      Like

  4. So so beautifully narrated .firstly can relate to every bit of it having done the identical things and faced the same situations Meghna .Oh my god …..I am left with no words ….but please keep writing want to read more about Akshay Neha ….

    Like

  5. Aunty, it is a privelege to know Akshay as my husbands coursemate and now through your writings ..
    It is such a learning process the way u have taken this unfortunate incident ..
    We all are so proud of Akshay and I’m sure all that he has learnt from you …
    keep writing and let us know him a little more ..
    With much Regards,
    Diksha

    Like

  6. Hello Meghna Mam..
    Greetings
    I could imagine all this since I had also grown up in Air Force Base environment… Surprisingly the Rakhsabandan Pic.. I and my sister also share the exactly same pose..
    Mam please keep writing.. Jai HIND..
    Regards

    Like

  7. Dearest Meghna, Thank you for this beautiful piece . I feel lucky and honoured that I am able to read about Major Akshay and thank you for this opportunity. You are truly inspirational. You have proven that with a strong mind one can fight the toughest battles. Sending you love , a warm hug and strength. Major Akshay is watching you and saying to himself and the world “Wasn’t I lucky to be raised by such a great woman”
    Love,
    Sindhu

    Like

    • Thank you Sindhu. It is comforting to know within that Akshay and I did share an exceptional mother-son bond. I actually looked up to him- even for advice at times, and he confided in me things most sons do not. Trying to cope now without him. Love and best wishes to you and your family.

      Like

      • It’s not easy aunty, but you have redefined bravery and courage, taken it to new heights. Sending you all the positive vibes and strength. Surely Major Akshay will come back into your life very soon, just place your trust in the universe. Hope to meet you some day. Love, Sindhu

        Like

  8. I bow my head to the mother in you . Not only as a mother but my respect for you as a woman is so huge that it is so difficult to express it . I can actually live the moments with you as you write from your heart. Akshay is a pure soul and he found his home with you another pure soul . He will always be with you perhaps in the most beautiful place of your soul and heart . My prayers always

    Like

    • Thank you Vanita. Akshay definitely is a pure and very evolved soul and will lead the way for many including me. Love and best wishes to you and your family.

      Like

  9. Very touching . The ending brought tears and lots of emotions. Hats off to you for writing so nicely especially when you are going through so much! Please keep writing!

    Like

  10. Chellamma very happy to read your excellent formation of words in which you are showing me akshay in live.
    I will not disturb your mind by writing my feelings, please take care of yourself and girish n also neha beti.

    Like

  11. So touching to read , Meghna, memories are treasures to fill ones life with.Do continue with your story, would like to know more about our hero. More strength to you, stay blessed!

    Like

  12. Years may have passed but a mother nurses memories that are etched forever in the heart from where no one can take him away. Dear Mother your love will keep him alive forever on our hearts too. I miss him and shed a silent tear for your son our dear Akshay .

    Like

  13. This story is so touching Aunty.. Memories are treasures! The last part brought tears. He is always with you and the family. May God give you all inner strength and peace. I read all your stories and eagerly waiting for next week. Thanks so much for being inspiration to many ordinary People like us. Warm hugs and love aunty!

    Like

  14. Aunty…. yet again this brought tears to my eyes 😦 . Your strength is something that I am not even able to imagine. Please keep writing. Lots and lots of love to all of you. Akshay is a precious gem. Just after I got married, I had talked to Akshay on the phone as he was not able to come to the wedding and I still remember it like yesterday… he said to me “if Kiran ever gives you any trouble , you just call me and I will take care of it”.. somewhere in that small conversation there were enough words.. he made me feel like a part of the family!
    Please keep writing. I want to repeat all of these stories to Diya someday! In one way or another I feel like Akshay is always going to be with us

    Like

      • Meghna, What a lovely way to put it. I read each of your blogs at least five times, the more I read them the more it flashes in front of the eyes as if its happening now. I am waiting when you reach Tambaram in your blog, – the day Tini was brought home.,our holiday in Port Blair or our visit to NDA. I remember when he was narrating how punishments in NDA were so exciting and how he enjoyed them – and I told him – don’t enjoy it too much – they will keep you here for good. How he enjoyed the jokes between course mates when we pulled each other’s leg. Keep writing – we look forward to it.

        Like

  15. AN ODE TO A HERO

    1. Nearing forty, few events have made me ponder over the ‘meaning of life and death’ more deeply than the’ life and times of three unique people’ namely my sister Vidhya Thangini, Major Amit Deswal and Major Akshay Girish all of whom I was associated one way or the other and had the flame of their lives extinguished in their very prime (all in their late twenties / early thirty). If at all, it only exposes the fickleness and fallibility of this journey called life and the underlying message that – ‘when it is there- live it well’. My association with Major Akshay was a brief yet a memorable one………

    2. It was the summer of 2007 or may be autumn 2006 . Gentleman Cadet Akshay was part of the IMA tennis Club and I being a regular tennis player ( I was posted as a platoon commander in Cassino Company then) often met these academy team types. Akshay was not quite an extra ordinary tennis player as such but a keen one like me who played for the ‘fun quotient and the august friendships’ such small groups forged. But there was something unique in his approach which struck me and we often engaged in friendly banter inspite of me being a Directing Staff (DS) and he being a student (This gap is particularly pronounced in the training academies where the hierarchy is rigid). We had these practice sessions where we would knock and rally – on wednesdays and weekends. It was third term now and he was in possession of this flashy tennis kit bag . When I enquired about this new addition, he told me that he or his dad during a short holiday at Spain had bought it and justifiably he was proud of that bag.

    3. Days and weeks went by and now came the time for Bakshi Cup (an biennial event wherein Indian Military Academy and National Defence Academy compete vigorously for the top honors) where tennis was one of the events. We tried to do a SWOT(Strength , Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) analysis of the team members. All team members analyzed their own game with the help of other members. When the turn of GC Akshay came (he was not part of the main team anyway), I told them all that I have already analyzed Akshay’s game myself and asked ‘Akshay and his friends’ as to what was the crowning achievement of his budding tennis career so far and that I would permit only three guesses. Akshay became the butt of jokes and he thoroughly enjoyed the attention he was getting. Someone said it was his forehand, the other said that it was his match temperament ( that he played equally bad during the matches as well) etc. Now that all options were exhausted everyone waited with abated breath for my (coach’s) opinion and I told him that his greatest achievement in tennis was his newly acquired ‘tennis bag’ and that’s it…Period… Everyone had a hearty laugh particularly Akshay and he never quite forgot it.

    4. Years went by, and in 2012, I met him at Pune whilst he was in the final year of his degree course at Pune along with his close friend Captain Puneet Khanna who came to see me in the grandstand demonstration organized for Staff College students . He remembered the tennis bag slight and we thoroughly enjoyed the joke for its depth and worth. I had come across many hundreds of officers , classmates, course mates, Juniors and seniors but few leave you with fondness and memories the way Akshay did …. The song below captures my emotions …..

    Aate Jaate Khubsurat Awara Sadkon Pe
    Kabhi Kabhie Ittefaq Se
    Kitne Anjaan Log Mil Jaatein Hain
    Unn Mein Se Kuch Log Bhool Jaatein Hain
    Kuch Yaad Reh Jaate Hain
    Unn Mein Se Kuch Log Bhool Jaatein Hain
    Kuch Yaad Reh Jaate Hain (X2)

    Lambi Lambi Raaton Mein Neend Nahin Jab Aati
    Kabhi Kabhie Iss Firaaq Se
    Kitne Haseen Khwab Ban Jaate Hain
    Unn Mein Se Kuch Khwab Bhool Jaate Hain
    Kuch Yaad Reh Jaate Hain
    Unn Mein Se Kuch Log Bhool Jaatein Hain
    Kuch Yaad Reh Jaate Hain

    5. Many years later (2013), I bought an equally flashy tennis bag , when anyone asked about it, I made it a point to recount that incident with Akshay. The bag is named Akshay now and the journey continues the way it would have brought that quiet shy smile in him…..

    6. Mom, I am indeed touched by your philosophical strength and now I know where Akshay got his quiet resilience and strength from..My salute to you and family.

    regards,

    Colonel Viveka Moorthy

    Like

    • Thank you for this story on Akshay. I must confess that as a mother, teacher and social worker, I am both hurt and sad that someone, anyone, was slighted by a coach or senior, from who they expect guidance and encouragement. However, I am also proud that Akshay, with his ‘shy smile’ and ‘resilience’ took the jokes in his stride. Which is what makes him a fighter and a hero. Best wishes to you and your family. Take care.

      Like

      • Ma’am,

        I must clarify that Akshay was a good tennis player by any standards and it was a prank we played on him. I am certain, I had made it clear to all concerned that it was a joke. Akshay and myself shared a mutually respectful friendship. I am sure all his friends who were directly involved in the incident would recall that it was a harmless friendly banter and leg pulling of each other & nothing more.I am extremely sorry, ma’am for the sense of hurt caused to you directly or indirectly and by any stretch of imagination to Akshay. He was always a hero and remain one for all of us.

        Regards

        Like

  16. As much as I cry in reading your post, I eagerly look forward to them. Keep writing Aunty & penning down your pain and thoughts…Loads of love.

    Like

  17. With each passing day I think time will heal every painful tragic memory but one never ever gets over this. Meghna I never had the privilege to meet Akshay in person yet I think of him often and always with a twinge of sadness and lots of pride. I along with many readers want to get to know Akshay through your eyes. Keep writing and keep strong my friend

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s