Major Akshay Girish: Son, Hero, Martyr

Two months- the longest and hardest 60 days of our lives and we have managed to cope. Each passing day, hour and minute is also driving home the irreversibility of our loss and telling us this is way beyond a bad dream. Which means, telling ourselves to stop hoping for that miracle- like maybe a phone call saying there was a bad mix up, that Akshay is somehow safe, and we will see him soon.

On our 68th Republic Day, the message ‘Freedom does not come for Free’ has never been so poignantly felt. Even as we missed Akshay every moment, our hearts went out to all the martyrs families. At the same time, we were glad to see that many of the Gallantry Awardees (including Major Rohit Suri- Keerti Chakra) made it back home safe and can smile with pride while their tales of valour are discussed. The biggest honour though, India’s Ashok Chakra was awarded posthumously to Havildar Hangpan Dada (for his valour in thwarting the evil designs of terrorists in Kupwara) and was received by his brave wife Chasen Lowang Dada.

Naina and Neha have been down this past week- something they ate didn’t suit them and when one is already feeling low, immunity is down and its easy to fall ill. They are both on the mend now- touch wood. Pradish, in his quietly efficient ways does multiple things for all of us, (like toys and outings for Naina, errands for me and Sangeeta, company for Girish and a comforting shoulder for Neha) helping us stay cheerful. Yesterday, he walked in with Pizza for dinner (after a long time) which we wolfed down while playing the movie ‘Lakshya’ on TV– rented via youtube. Akshay absolutely loved this movie by Farhan Akhtar- based loosely on the bravery of Kargil heroes. It was also made around the time he was in IMA, and as a family, we have all watched it with Akshay many times over the years. Far away, in the US, Satwik too was watching the same movie on the same day and texting – ‘how Akshay knew almost every dialogue in it’.  Isn’t this telepathy?  Girish found it painful to watch and went down mid-way to catch up with some paper work while the rest of us, talked about Akshay in every other scene as we watched. Once again, we felt a huge rush of pride in what our soldiers rise to whenever the nation has been under attack. I got back to continue writing Akshay’s Story; My Way.

PART TEN

Naina’s first birthday on 28th October 2014 was a lovely celebration at our home and Sangeeta-Akshay-Nainu made the prettiest picture that day. The young papa-mumma went halfway across the city to pick up her beautiful birthday cake. That afternoon, Neha joined them in decorating the place, and it was so nice to see them laughing at each others efforts at blowing up balloons – behaving like kids themselves! Naina was the perfect birthday baby- smiling and enjoying the attention from her great grand-parents, grand-parents, family and friends who came in to celebrate her very special day. The Girish household was brimming with joy and the good times continued into 2015.

This part of my story goes back to the twins – the special bond Akshay-Neha always shared was strengthened with Sangeeta and Naina’s entry, and even as Dhruv-Neha-Akshay had been a threesome for the longest time, Neha-Akshay-Sangeeta became another trio ‘in perfect sync’. When together, they planned fun-outings, family ‘dinners out’ and partied with friends and cousins.

Akshay was just as proud of his ‘scientist sister’ as she was of him and of course, they were also ‘partners in crime’ in a nice way! Akshay doted on his sister and while always supportive of Neha‘s focus on education and career and her clear preference to ‘not marry early’, he had begun to worry about his sister continuing to remain single. His one wish of ‘ma, I wish Neha finds that someone special too’ came true when Neha and Pradish who had been ‘dating’ finally made it known to us that they were ready to change their standard response from ‘we need more time to decide’   to, ‘we are ready to get engaged’!

Akshay was all smiles after an evening out with Neha and Pradish and he said ‘maan na padega ma, Neha ne banda dhoonda toh takkar ka hai’! The standing joke was that Neha whenever questioned, would always have an answer to ‘how come no one special….?’ and her favourite excuse was ‘my brothers are so good looking and nice, I can never find anyone as good’!

Knowing how much Akshay’s approval mattered to Neha, it was obvious she was very happy that her much loved brother and Pradish got along so well.

Once again, Girish and I got into ‘engagement and wedding’ mode and this time we also had Akshay and Sangeeta to share the planning joys for our ‘ghar ki laadli ki shaadi’. As the only girl among eight brothers on both sides of the family, it was a wedding the elders, uncles, aunts and cousins were waiting to be part of. Pradish’s father Mr. Gopalakrishna – a gem of a person – was happy to go along with whatever kind of wedding the kids wanted. After a small engagement in April, the Arya Samaj wedding was set for October 25th– just after Dusshera.

On the professional front, it was once again a very busy year for Akshay. He went to Mhow for the Junior Command Course in March and put his best foot forward to earn an Instructors grading (BI). As always, his first thought was ‘my CO will be happy I did well for the unit.’ Back from the course, Akshay got busy coordinating the biggest celebration for his regiment – its Golden Jubilee. When I called him, he would be busy speaking on other calls and quite often, it would be ‘ma, ek minute hold karo…’ and I would say ‘baad mein baat karein?’ Despite added responsibility as the adjutant, Akshay was very clear he would take a month’s leave for ‘behen ki shaadi’. ‘I have to be there to do work also, not come last minute for the wedding,’ he had said.

Earlier that year, Akshay had to miss out on the family vacation we had planned to Bali because the JC Course came up and so, it was Girish, Neha, Sangeeta, Naina and me who went without Akshay. On the phone, when I said ‘miss you Akshay, wish you were here with us’, he said ‘I too miss you all ma, but never mind, we will soon be together at Neha’s engagement.  So often in the years past, Akshay has said ‘ma, mein nahin bhi aa sakta toh Sangeeta ko le jao ghumane ke liye. I always tell her you don’t miss out on the fun just because I cannot make it. I want her to have a good time and it doesn’t have to only be with me.’

My thoughts are filled with how little Akshay expected and how much he always gave.  How he wanted to see his loved ones happy even when he couldn’t take time off to join the fun.

The very day they came on leave for the much awaited wedding, Akshay rolled up his sleeves and said ‘ma, batao, kya kya kaam karne hain.’ We happily transferred a lot of responsibility onto Akshay and Sangeeta and it was so nice to be able to relax and enjoy our own daughter’s pre-wedding functions like ‘Sangeet, Haldi and Mehendi’, that too at home, with much singing, dancing, chatter and laughter. It was little Naina’s first exposure to so many people and like her father, she loved the attention. And just like Akshay, she set the stage on fire twirling and swaying to the music!  Late at night, when she could no longer stand on her little feet, Akshay said ‘do something ma- Naina isn’t getting off the dance floor,’ and I, the firm grandmother, scooped her into my arms and marched her into bed.

At the wedding, Akshay was most emotional, just as Pradish had predicted. When asked in a ‘how well do you know each other’ game by friends, to the question ‘who do you think will cry the most at Neha’s wedding?’ Pradish had known it would be Akshay. As Sangeeta says, ‘he had teary eyes at the wedding while Neha was happily smiling!’

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The night after the wedding, Akshay took to facebook to post this message:

To my darling sis Neha Girish..

From when u used to push my pram, allow me to be seated next to u in class, share your laddoos or even gave me a hand when I was in a fight.. U helped me grow better….
U helped me study, came to my rescue in school, showed me glimpses of the college life I never had and even made me a party to the amazing group of friends u have.. Helped me grow better…
U went on to do big things, did them rather well.. Became a scientist ( now a senior one, I love it when u say ” senior scientist “).. U made me proud and that ur doing so well pushes me hard too.. U still help me grow better…
On this wonderful day when ur finally a WIFE.. Ur gonna be the reason another man, Sripradish Kapikad is good too and ul help him also grow better.. and to take this beautiful journey ahead, let’s do it with a family selfie… Cheers 🍻 to u my darling sis.. And to Sripradish kapikad.. Ur in amazing company and hands bro..

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Somehow, my story refuses to move forward and comes back to the present. Girish and I were invited to our old apartment complex for the Republic Day celebrations this year. Must admit, it was a difficult day despite being back among a caring group of people. After Girish hoisted and saluted our tricolour, Akshay was honoured as a martyr at Floriana Apartments and my voice broke when I was asked to say a few words.

It was to that home of ours that Akshay came on leave to- right from his NDA days until he and Sangeeta were married. Many memories came flooding back as we entered Akshay’s room in our apartment (Pooja and Viraj now live there).

I could almost picture Akshay sprawled across the bed, sleeping on his stomach, his young face peaceful, lopsided grin spreading into a smile when I would try to shake him awake. The usual routine was to wake him up, place his tea on the bedside table and tell him to get out of bed to shut the door after I left for work. As I would turn to leave, he would often put out an arm to stop me, and while still half asleep, murmur, ‘baitho na ma…thoda head massage kar do na bete ka…’ and while I ruffled his hair and gave him a head-rub, he would make those ‘mmmm’ sounds and say ‘kitna mazza aa raha hai…aur zor se karo na’ He would finally get up when I teased him saying, ‘Army kya itni der tak soti rahti hai? Kya hoga hamare desh ka?!’

I look up from writing this part of his story and see Akshay’s framed photograph in uniform adorned with a garland. The country continues to be in safe hands. Scenes of his final farewell flash through the mind for the umpteenth time and the tears flow.  

To all you wonderful people standing beside us and supporting us, telling us how strong we are in the way we are coping with loss, I have to tell you, at this moment, I do not feel strong at all.

“Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she is, but she is not, all at once. She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”

– Author unknown

Tomorrow is another day. I know I will pull myself together and get over this mood. The words ‘If God brings you to it, He will lead you through it’ are already echoing through the mind. Or maybe Akshay is telling me this from wherever he is.

 

47 thoughts on “Major Akshay Girish: Son, Hero, Martyr

  1. Meghna Ma’am, my first thoughts on Republic Day this year were of your Akshay and your family. I did the only thing I could at that moment – pray for strength & fortitude for all of you. I only hope that this country & its citizens realize the worth of all its soldiers, in the armed forces & among civilians!

    It is so heartening to hear of Akshay as the doting son & brother – one must so blessed to have such angels touch our lives. I am so glad that your family is trying to find strength in these small ways – when life hands you a pain that may never truly abate, it is these stolen moments from life & mundane chores that oddly bring comfort. Here’s wishing you all more of them.

    I hear you when you say that you do not feel strong – but then strength was never about not breaking down or feeling low, I think it is to be able to pick yourself up yet again, even your mind & body are saying otherwise. So strong you definitely are – you will always be. I hope these tears & reminiscences heal you. If there is such a thing as a virtual hug, I am sending you some rightaway. Love & strength to Sangeeta, Naina, Neha, Pradish & to Girish Sir too.

    I would like to end my comment on a positive note – I have noticed just how lovingly you refer to the people in your life..whether it is the immediate family members or the extended family & friends. I was thinking about it & it gladdened my heart to see that one can indeed live life with such grace & love, that it need not be lived with fear, hatred, anger, pettiness or anything negative. If anyone wonders where your children got that grace from, they need not look far!

    Thank you for being so…this world could do with some kinder & gentler beings. You remind me of my mother in so many ways 🙂

    Love & prayers coming your way…please keep writing. It is a wonderful way to get to know your Akshay! May there be more of his ilk!

    PS: Neha made a beautiful bride -thank you for these wonderful pictures!!

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    • You have taken the trouble to respond at length to my blog and truly, many of the things you have said gave me comfort. I read it over and over again and am feeling stronger. Also glad I remind you of your mother. Thank you for your kind words and for thinking about Akshay on Republic Day. Although it did not occur to me earlier, guess you are right and one can live with far less negativity- Akshay lived like that and Neha does too. Maybe we should count our blessings as we try to cope with our sorrow of loss. The virtual hug helps! I do not really know your name but thank you again. Take care and God bless you and your family.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your wishes Meghna ma’am. I insist on anonymity purely for personal reasons. You can call me V…I am from Bangalore too.
        Will keep in touch with you & God willing, we may even meet someday! I know I would love to…

        Until then, my prayers, love & virtual hugs will keep coming!

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  2. Reading this blog my eyes are full of tears and i am not able to control myself. Iam again going to bed not to sleep but to hide my tears from others. I only want to say aunty be strong close your eyes and feel him as you want in your arms. Love u Aunty .

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    • Sorry I made you cry Pratima- I write spontaneously but maybe I should have toned it down. Hope you dd get some sleep. Take care. Love and hugs to you.

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    • I know Mrs Mishra its hard but we are going to be strong…He deserves our courage…He is Our strength…We will live well as long as we can for we owe it to Him…Lots of love to you….And stay strong

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  3. Dearest Meghna aunty, each word expressed by you makes me sad and proud at the same time…how I wish too that from somewhere…he springs up on his feet to be with his lovely mother… me being much younger than you but I am learning a lot from you- to be so strong and weak too for the loss of a dear one…sometimes you might feel much weaker but always remember…you have to keep sharing ur memoirs through your writings as we here wait to read all you want to share about our dearest Akshay! Love you aunty😘

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    • You have all been such a source of support- reading my posts and encouraging me to write- thank you Ritu. Sad and proud is right- you take care too. Love and hugs

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  4. Pranam aunty. You are a very strong lady as well the whole family. The stories of Major Akshay keep us mesmerized. He connected us together like one big family. I pray to Saibaba to bring back again peace, happiness and smile to the family. Satha choti pranam to Major Akshay and all the soldiers to sacrifice their lives for us. Jai hind!

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  5. Thank you aunty. Your stories bring him back every single time. Those are some really beautiful pics. He enjoyed even the littlest of joys. He knew how to live life. Just a cup of tea was special. As Mrs Akshay always says (and none of us can ever deny) ‘he was divine’. All of us have known him as a friend, husband and a dad. To know him through your words makes him even more special.
    How happy he would be to know that all of us are together. Sharing our memories of him. Remembering him. Celebrating him.
    Love you ladies. All of you.

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  6. Meghana, it’s never easy to let go and especially someone who is a part of your being.please let the tears flow, it’s a form of healing too. God give you all the strength and every part of your story that I read with so much earnest, my respect for all of you as a family simply grows. Lots of love n hugs. Hold yourself dear, you will be fine

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  7. Thank you Meghna for writing about all our lives drawing your tapestry from our lives of which Akshay was such an important part. Your courage and grace is unparalleled. Truly heroes like your son are born from heroic parents. Shokin

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    • Thank you Shokin for sharng our pride in Akshay. Yes, he was and will remain a part of all our lives and this is a sort of tribute to all soldiers who like him put Nation before self. Take care

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  8. A very touching writeup aunty,through ur writings u let us know that Maj.Akshay nurtured every bond of his life with utmost love & care.His supreme sacrifice along with his co martyrs is his unparalleled love for his countrymen.He truely lived up to service before self legacy.Actually in this blog my fav part was Maj.Akshay – Sangeeta love story but then this entire blog is Maj.Akshay’s love story for his country,his service ……very poignantly written with lots of pride by a brave mum.tkcr god bless u all.

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  9. We your readers can only feel and try to share your pain and anguish but you and your family have to bear the burden. My heart goes out to you and your family. Sending you hugs and positive vibes my dear. You will dig deep and retrieve your strength but once in a while it’s therapeutic to give in to emotions. Lots of love meghana

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    • Thank you Abha. I hope to find peace and keep Akshay’s legacy alive by staying connected with the people who’s lives he touched. God bless you.

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  10. Namastey Meghna Ma’am,
    Thanks for telling this part.. I met briefly and had some glimpse of Maj. Akshay if I remember correctly during JC Course times somewhere in April 2015 in CME when he accompanied with Sangeeta Mam along with Brave Naina in CME quarters…
    I wish I could rewind the time… Yes tomorrow is another day..and all of you have to be strong in this difficult time…”A Big Salute to a Brave Mother”
    Happy 68th Republic Day…Belated.
    Jai Hind

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  11. My heart tears up for u and your family. I have no good words that can soothe a grieving mom and wife. Words fail me literally!
    But the strength you all potray is commendable. Absolutely phenomenal.
    Please keep writing … i absolutely love reading about your memories and there is a lot for us all to learn from it. I feel deeply connected to your family…thank you for sharing with us . Please take care!

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  12. Dear meghna
    A big salute to brave sons brave mother.May God bless your family and sangeethas parents to cope up with the great loss.Everytime finish reading with prayers.
    Why this happens to such a good people?
    God alone knows.Let HIM guide your family.

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    • Thank you Sally. There are probably no answere to some questions. We have no choice but to accept and cope with losing Akshay. The only solace is he was very brave and died protecting citizens and country. God bless

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  13. Dearest most adorable most affectionate…And my loving Meghna aunty your writing is as beautiful as you…I know this is pain …And even though you feel you are not strong but you are the bravest of the brave for me…He was an amazing soul Aunty and am sure His Devine presence will always be there to guide you and be your guardian angel….He was an embodiment of love and He will continue to spread it even from beyond…We are all with you…Count me in at this moment right from the far lands of cold Delhi the warmest hug to you….Love you…

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    • Shinangi, like you, truly feel Akshay was a brave, humane, compassionate and divine soul. In his journey, he has left lessons for us to love and live and I am doing my best to remain strong -actually all of us are trying to do that. thank you for the warm hugs and love. Sending you lots of love and God bless

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  14. Dearest Meghna aunty,
    Thank you again for a beautiful post, was very emotional while reading it and cannot even comprehend what a martyr’s family goes through. Wish all this was a nightmare and we could wake up one morning to Akshay’s beaming smile and his presence, such is my bond with you that even I feel this way everyday. But unfortunately this is not possible and you all have to pick the pieces together to create and make more beautiful memories for Naina. I pray and hope that the universe does give all of you the strength to cope with what has happened . I have a feeling that Akshay will come to your life in some way or the other and you would know when that happens. I hope you are feeling stronger today and I am confident that you will not let your spirit die. I am looking forward to sending you the stole which is being woven by our talented artisans 🙂 Will reach out to you soon. Passing my love, strength, presence, vibes and all that is needed to make you feel better and stronger.

    Much love,
    Sindhu

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    • You are right Sindhu- I know we cannot bring Akshay back no matter what. It still feels so unreal – even though we went through we saw him after he was gone and went through the cremation rites. hope your feeling / intuition is right. Feeling stronger today- thank you. Sure your weavers are doing a fabulous job and its the thought that counts- you have been so kind. Love and hugs and God bless your little one.

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  15. Aunty ,

    Writing brIngs so much power! This is totally reflected in your blog.. reading your thoughts surely makes me ponder what you, Sangeeta, Neha and uncle must be going thru with each passing second .. with Naina around , I’m sure you have to roll up your tears and give her a upbringing what Maj Akshay must have given her.

    More power to you and keep on writing..

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  16. Every post of yours that I read Aunty, makes me smile more because I feel closer to Akshay, but also hurts a little because I can imagine your pain. But you are so brave and so generous to share all of this with us.
    Lots of love and hugs always!

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  17. Your pride in your son and the intense pain in your heart has reached out to many of us and we have become a part of the journey all of you are on…I pray to god almighty to make your path smooth and comfortable with major Akshay walking all along in this lifelong companionship…years will pass ….intensity of pain will reduce but this love of yours for him will keep him alive forever…you people are one strong family and I am sure your son takes pride in that fact…

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    • Hope so Deergha- hope is what the world lives on and so will we. Thank you for reaching out with your kind words and prayers. God bless you

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