Major Akshay Girish- Son, Hero, Martyr

Friends had been wishing us a ‘better new year’, and until the eve of 2017, Girish and I felt it had to be better than the terrible one going past. After all, what could be worse than the year 2016 – one that had snatched away our precious child?

At home, with Akshay’s memories, well before the stroke of midnight, we suddenly wanted to hold on to 2016 and not let the year move on!

The mind and heart have a strange way of being inconsistent in thought and emotions.  Trying to analyse  the inconsistencies of mood through another sleepless night, by about 3AM on 1st January 2017, I finally understood why I felt such an emotional wreck and wanted to hold on to the year that was. Turning to an equally upset Girish I blurted out “Saabji, at least we had Akshay for almost 11 months last year. This year ….and the next….and forever from now on……. till we are….. no year will have our raja beta.”

With a very heavy heart, I pull myself together and gather the courage to continue Akshay’s story, my way.

PART SIX

Once again, this story is taking me backwards and too many recollections are jostling for space on this page. Thoughts of Akshay, the little boy, and how he would react to situations, a special mother-son bond despite some heated arguments (when Neha would call a truce) and how he has always been my ‘sounding board.’ Strange as it may seem, Akshay, while retaining his childlike enthusiasm and cheerful disposition at all times, was the one I often relied on for advice or for answers to a problem.  Always an intuitive young person, he had an uncomplicated way of dealing with things, and his way worked. Since he was 5 years old, when I was angry, he would wait for me to calm down before reaching out with an innocent “abhi aapka gussa thanda ho gaya (has your anger cooled down)? This would be followed by a “paani laa doon ma (shall I get you water mummy)?” His reaching out with love made me respond with hugs and kisses. One day, little Dhruv had a bandage on his head and told Akshay he was hit by a stone that Akshay threw at him after a fight. Decades later, Akshay confided he often had nightmares thinking of how he had once hurt Dhruv! Even when ‘Chitti mama’ clarified that the stone hadn’t even touched Dhruv, Akshay refused to believe him saying “you all have forgotten – I did hurt him!”

Growing up, Akshay at about 15 was once very angry at me because I enforced the ‘home by 7.30 rule’ equally, for both Akshay and Neha. He said “mere friends mujh pe hanste hain(my friends laugh at me) because even though I’m a boy, you don’t let me stay out late.” I told him the rule applied irrespective of gender and that since they were both the same age, I didn’t think it was fair to let him stay out later than Neha. We were both upset and sought refuge in our respective rooms. In a few minutes, Akshay had not only calmed down but came to me with an apology, accepting that he was wrong. Since that day, Akshay would make it a point to be back home on our mutually agreed time.

Akshay never hesitated in saying ‘sorry.’ He always believed that relationships were precious and ego had no place in them.

When young Satwik was going through his own adolescent angst after class 9 and getting into trouble with teachers at school, Girish and I thought it best to have him under our care for a year. I was however nervous about raising the topic with Satwik, fearing he may refuse to move in with us, as he enjoyed more freedom in his grandparents home. After all, I was known as this ‘strict Chinni aunty.’  Akshay stepped in to say, “Ma, don’t make it a big deal. Just take him out for an ice cream and tell him you would be happy to have him home, now that Neha, Dhruv and I are away.”  The simple strategy, if one can call it that, worked like a dream! Satwik went on to do well in class 10, and I like to think it also brought us much closer together. For Girish and me, it was like having a third child back in our home!

Moving forward from where the fifth part of the story had meandered, I bring you back to Akshay finishing his training at NDA. Having lived and breathed NDA for six semesters, it was time for the Passing Out Parade of the 111 Course.  The astounding, unforgettable show of youthful enthusiasm in military precision and discipline also marked their successful 3 year training, where boys enter to graduate as men, ready to take on the long and difficult road ahead, in service of the nation.

Seated since early morning, Akshay’s grandparents, Girish & I, and our nephew Vaibhav can never forget the stunning spectacle of hundreds of young cadets striding out of massive gates at the other end of the Khetrapal Parade Ground, and marching in perfect step to an impressive Band. The goosebumps and the lump in our throats stayed right till the end of the ceremony, and as Akshay and his mates jubilantly threw their berets high into the air and did their ‘josh push-ups’, every person watching felt insanely happy for the young men! They say the NDA prepares the youngsters for any eventuality- to enable them to stand up in defence of the nation- on land, in sea, or air. This was also the time for separation in a way, because course-mates who were good friends but cadets of different services (Army, Air Force and Navy) would no longer be training together. The pranksters group of Akshay+Aditya+Akshay+Ishaan would also be going their separate ways!

After NDA, our Akshay was off to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun for the final year of training as a GC (Gentleman Cadet). As Akshay would tell us, ‘the training is designed and graduated in a way that every day, not only do we get tougher, faster and more efficient but discover who we are and what we can become.’ He spoke of how a GC can realize his true potential of physical capabilities and mental strength through ‘control of emotions such as pain, hunger, fatigue and fear.’ He was most impressed with the focus on building leadership traits that enable a soldier to take a decision in complex situations – wherein lie higher values of selflessness, sacrifice, dignity and death over dishonor.

His trips between semesters at NDA and IMA were filled with some very happy get-togethers and vacations- notably England and Scotland with Dhruv and Satwik and Kashmir with Prabha and Ankit. Akshay loved catching up with all his friends (their tribe kept increasing!) and would urge us to plan our extended family re-unions when he was around. He would also be the one to take responsibility when the group of cousins (all boys except for Neha) went out and partied. If the young ones, Vaibhav and Satwik were drinking or being defiant, the big brother in Akshay would step in to keep them in check (a few arms have been twisted in doing so!) and he would make sure everyone was back home safe, and  protected from further parental lectures!

The period was also an important phase in Akshay’s life in terms of love and longing. It was a time when he moved beyond a confusing crush that did not have a future. I felt as if he was really listening to his inner self , to understand what love truly meant. Sangeeta, I suspect, was slowly and steadily taking centre-stage in his heart!

All too soon for Akshay, the IMA training was coming to an end. We had heard so much about the grueling training, the competitive sports (Akshay was good at Tennis), the fun and endurance trips to the hills around, and the ‘fantastic instructors’, who inspired – particularly Akshay’s favorite- Major Rajat.

Akshay’s was also the platinum Jubilee Course of the IMA and for the first time after 25 years, the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was the Chief Guest.

On a misty morning, he and his coursemates stood straight and proud on the Drill Square in front of the famed Chetwode Hall as the PM delivered his convocation speech. “I am truly delighted to be here today. It gives me great pride to review the Passing Out Parade of the Platinum Jubilee Course of the Indian Military Academy. The IMA flag has the Colours – ‘Steel Grey’ and ‘Blood Red’ with the motto, ‘Valour and Wisdom (Veerta aur Vivek)’. Each one of you is a proud soldier of India willing to perform your duty, without fear or favour, without any prejudice based on your ethnic, religious, linguistic, regional or caste identity. You are Indians first, and Indians last. I extend my heartiest congratulations to the proud parents and guardians of the cadets. Their pride is well justified; for the young men here are the creme-de-la-creme of our great nation. The nation reposes its trust in them. It looks to them with pride and with hope.

When the GCs marched for their POP, they looked spectacular and the ground vibrated as they sang the new IMA song written for the Platinum Jubilee Course by Javed Akhtar.

Bharat Mata teri kasam , tere  rakshak  rehenge hum

(Mother India, we promise to be your protectors),

Vande Mataram, Vande Mataram

Deewaaren hum banenge Maa,

(We will be your walls mother)

Talwaaren hum banenge Maa

(We will become your swords mother)

Chhu le tujh ko hai kisme dum?

(Who can dare to touch you?)

Vande Mataram, Vande Mataram

I urge you to use this link to actually see the GCs sing this song at the IMA Parade and to experience what we as parents felt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2hr17pNnjs&list=PLebYwcTyGWuRoPNFX4hLRCYqQDFihtSM-

On that day, the lump in our chest was one of amazement and pride- that our little boy- the tiny, weak little baby who didn’t even have the strength to cry, had by his grit and determination, achieved his dream of a ‘Presidential Commission’. Apart from Neha, Akshay’s aunt and uncle (Nagamani and Dr. N Rao) and our friends Srikant and Rajiv Mata were with us on Akshay’s big day. We, his happy, teary-eyed parents had the honour of putting the stars on to his shoulder tabs.  Our little boy Akshay was now an Officer of the great Indian Army and Lt. Akshay Girish Kumar was looking absolutely, heart-stoppingly splendid in his Olive Green uniform.

The famous Credo of the IMA states:

The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.
The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.
Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time.

The IMA must be very proud that Akshay has lived up to the Credo.

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

  1. Jai hind……hats off to akshay sir the brave soul……
    Aa quoted by mam……sir never had problems in saying sorry even to his juniors…..
    It once happened during yo’s,I was his benchmate and was making some drawing on his hand wid my Reynolds 075 while sir wanted to sleep during the intermission……he got annoyed at broke my pen…….but then in the evening he took me out for dinner and gifted me a parker pen……such was a noble soul …….I truely miss him a lottttt
    I soo wanted him to know that I m blessed wid a baby boy on 21 Dec…… He would have been soooooo happy for me……I want to name my kiddo after his name……

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    • He had told me about breaking your pen and was upset with himself for doing so Aditi. Congratulations on the little one- do take good care of yourself and your baby. Akshay will be his guardian angel from up there….love and God bless.

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  2. Well, I had been thinking for the longest time whether to leave a post or not but today after reading your blog I couldn’t control myself, ma’am I must say apart from the respect i have towards the brave soul of our country.. I respect the family he has and the strength he has imparted to all of you as one! I’m in my teens and even though alot of your posts about your beta Raja moves me to a teary eyed one.. at the end of the day I am motivated and want to pursue my dreams with same determination and passion that our brave soul had! I’m too young to comment on any of your emotions but I only hope the years ahead shower your family with all the love from the almighty and all the happiness the family deserves! #respect and #forever proud Indian

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    • Thank you Deeksha for reaching out. For one so young, you have passion and determination and they will take you far. I wish you every success in achieving your dreams. God be with you.

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  3. Hello Meghna Ma’am,
    Wow.. is the right word for this part of Gallant Major’s story.
    Well I am confused! how to wish you, Sangeeta Mam and Girish Sir ”A very happy and Prosperous New Year ahead”, when you all are in deep grif and extremely saddened.
    But show must go on.. he is Immortal and must be watching all this from heaven… ***Happy new year 2017 ahead to you Ma’am and all***.
    Take care.
    Jai Hind

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  4. Meghna your writing has left me speechless .can relate to every bit so well when specially you told Girish to somehow hold on to 2016 .please keep writing and telling more about our hero .
    The IMA song makes you cry .yhanks for sharing it .

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  5. Dear Aunty,

    Thanks for writing it all about our real HERO. I remember me telling him to grow his hairs and he would look better in long hairs and he always use to take a short haircut. So many memories from school. Miss him and at the same time, so proud to have known the great soul.

    Anant.

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    • Akshay was very fauji wasnt he- in his haircut and formal dressing style too?! Wish you and your family a very happy 2017 Anant. God bless you

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  6. Dear Meghna Aunty,
    Thank you for sharing another part of your beautiful memories of Our Akshay
    He was truly a great warrior who lived up to all the ideals set forth by his seniors and fought valiantly for His men in arms…Love you and even though you are in midst of grief just wish to say we are all with you and will always be.

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    • Know you are all with us Shivangi- thats the power of Akshay too- getting people connected! Wish you, Vaibhav and Vedant a very happy 2017. God bless

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  7. Hi Meghna, I have been following your blog and they are very touching. We have never met but know of you. I am Anagah Kolhe’s sister and also know Sarit (didi) Deshpande. Your blog and Akshay’s stories are an inspiration to all. Akshay was a Brave soldier and will live on in everyone’s heart. Best wishes to you and Sangeeta.

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  8. I thought the same that moving this year, we will have Akshay live forever in our hearts. Thank you aunty, your stories makes me feel so much more close to Akshay…Please continue to share all the lovely and beautiful memories you have with him…Lots of love to all of you!

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  9. wow !!! Such a short song but it charged me up !!!!!!!!!! :))) Thank you for sharing .

    Wishing you and your family a realllyyyyyyyyyyy Happy New Year :))
    Regards

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  10. Dear Meghna your narrative on Akshay, makes us find new meaning in our lives as we too delve into similar memories often hidden in dark recesses of our minds. Thank you for what you are narrating, a soldiers tale told with quiet dignity.
    Warm regards. Shokin

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  11. Meghana ,have been following your blog …thanks for sharing your memories of your brave courageous son.
    Coming from a Fauji family and having a son more or less of the same age as Akshay feel so very proud of all of you .
    Holding on to 2016 so very well put forth .. ..
    Looking forward to reading more of your posts in2017.

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  12. Ma’am we look forward to these stories every single time. I wish I had taken out time to know Akshay this well when I had the time and the chance. Akshay and I always kept making fun of each other during our one year together as room mates in IMA, a place where getting the wrong kind of room mate cloud make your already difficult life much much more dreadful, I was blessed enough to have Akshay as my buddy. I can never say this enough number of times, but if ever at ANY HOUR of the day , I could be of ANY help to all of you, It would be an honour for me. You all are an inspiration to us. My salute to Akshay.

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    • Thank you Shoryaveer- am so happy to know you shared a room with Akshay! Do visit us sometime when you come to Bengaluru. Would love to hear some of your IMA stories with Akshay in them. Wish you and your family a very happy new year. God bless you.

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  13. Meghana, no words to describe the emotions that your words bring out. I can very well understand the feeling you and Girish would have felt as the new year dawned. But life goes on and I am sure Akshay would want all of you to look ahead and move on. He is there with you always , in spirit, your guiding light. Wish you all a Happy 2017, that which strengthens all of you to move ahead with wonderful .memories in your hearts.

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    • Thank you Gayatri. You are right, Akshay is now our guardian angel and given time, we hope to live the way he would like to see us. Wish you and your family a very happy new year.

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  14. Dear Meghna I have been following your blog regularly… Though I have met you a couple of times with my sister in law Lalita I never got a chance to meet your charming son… Now I am meeting him through your story… They are so touching and inspiring…. They leave me speechless every time…. Best wishes for 2017 to all of you and specially to Dangers and little princess Nana…. God bless….

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    • Thank you Smita. Your support helps us cope with our sorrow at this difficult time in our lives. Wish you and your family a happy new year.

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  15. Dear aunty,Maj.Akshay’s story really proves the fact that dreams come true only on one’s will power & perseverance irrespective of
    size,shape,caste,creed,shortcomings or hurdles.Actually the other day my hubby Anirban said that on of his friends wanted his son to get into sainik school tilaiya & Anirban had discouraged him at first by saying that the boy was very small & frail for such tough schooling but then on my saying him about the tiny little boy of 1.7kg who moved on to become a brave officer he was actually convinced.Your inspirational writings has touched so many lives.The pop song was so wonderful.tkcr god bless u all.

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    • My advice would be to let children follow their dreams Lisa. What ever they choose, our role as parents is to support them and encourage their efforts.Faith can move mountains! Wish you and your family a happy 2017. God bless your friends son too.

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  16. Spellbound…want to simply keep reading about this really special wonderful child and human. Meghna I’m as proud of your son as you might be or even more so. Wish i had the privilege of meeting him. Your narrative will inspire many a youngster. So I have no qualms in wishing all of you a happy new year. Things will turn around. You have found your solace in writing about him. So will Girish and Sangeeta find reasons to live..

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    • Thank you Geetanjali. I suppose we will have to give time time to help us all heal. Sorrow of loss runs very deep and the loss of a child is most painful but move on we must. Your support and words help us at a very difficult time in our lives. Wish you and your family a very happy 2017.

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  17. Love and hugs to you aunty..so well written..bharat mata teri kasam brought tears to my eyes …I’m so proud to be an Indian. Salute to Maj Akshay Girish and all serving our nation.

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  18. Meghana aunty, thanks again for sharing the wonderful story of brave Major. Nation would always remember him and his sacrifice. Major Akshay is source of inspiration to many people and your blog adds hope, courage, strength and inspiration to all. Wishing you and your family a very peaceful new year! Ma tujhe salam. Jai hind!

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  19. For the first time read all the blogs written by Mrs Meghna Girish, Major Akshay Girish’s mother . What a hero! What a well lived life! What dedication to work! What bravery displayed! Only very very few people can display this kind of bravery, determination and grit. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. It’s not something everyone can do! He’s one of a kind! It’s such a beautiful interpretation of his life through his mother’s eyes, probably the only person who knows him best from his birth to death. After reading thoae blogs, I feel we haven’t lived our lives worthy enough of praise or in a meaningful way like these martyrs or soldiers or warriors have. They lead such selfless lives putting the nation first over their lives, which isn’t an easy task. To me it’s something I cannot even understand. He is truly an inspiration to all!
    These are my daughter Ragini’s words Meghna after reading your blog.

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    • Thank you to Ragini Geeta. She has been so thoughful and we are very grateful that so many of you are inspired by Akshay- our hero and martyr. God bless her. Love

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  20. Dear Meghna Aunty….your blogs always leave me speechless and with teary eyes. The other day when I met you all and said you all are very strong…I really meant it…I feel like saluting you all every now n then. It takes real courage to remain calm n compose infront of others and also to bring akshay closer to all of us through your write ups…its been more than a month now but because of you we feel akshay closer to us and around us all the more. Thanks alot aunty….needless to say we are with you all always still i feel so helpless…every single day I question god…I grew up hearing my mother say in tough times ” bhagwaan Jo karta hai..accha karta hai”…but at this juncture I do question this faith…I really question him for whatever he did….maybe I find my answers some day..till then can just hope that god is keeping good care of akshay up there as this I do believe “bhagwaan acche logon ko apne pass jaldi bula mera hai”…god is selfish too. I can jus share your pain aunty and wish you all a healful new year….a warm hug to Sangeeta…my daughter Araina joins me in sending love to naina. Regards

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    • Thank you again Anubha. I am also trying not to question God on Akshay! It is true though that Bhagwan ache logon ko jaldi bula lete hain. Maybe that is so that those of us who love them and admire them will learn to try and be better human beings? Since we have no choice, trying to accept what life has dealt us. We are trying to cope in our own way. Love and take care. God bless you and your family.

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  21. Thanks for taking us through the life of a Star. May he keep shining upon n guiding Naina & each one of you through the journey of life, Aunty!

    Hugs & love,
    Khush

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  22. Dear mam ….i have read your story and just want to say we owe our breath and freedom to these brave soldiers like your brave son major akshay girish …a true gentleman with brave heart…..i was in tears and was speechless while reading one of your incident where your grand daughter said i willl go away and bring my papa back…..so innocent n brave girl ……i am honoured and feel very lucky to know the story of a braveheart beautiful soul……his story has inspired me and i am sure it will inspire everyone ………big salute ………may god bless his soul ……we all are there for you mam…..jai hind…

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    • So sweet of you to reach out with your beautiful words of support Sunita. Thank you. God bless you. Love and take care.

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