MOVING AHEAD WITH AKSHAY: PROSPERING THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS

This is the season Akshay loved. Christmas cheer, closely followed by making plans to welcome each New Year with a ‘dhamaka’!

This was the time of year he prioritized for bringing friends and family together. In all their growing up years, for Akshay and Neha, Christmas eve was a sacred outing with kids among family friends – mainly Dipika and Sneha, Aman and Dhruv, and whoever else was willing to go out and enjoy the sights and sounds of Bangalore, all decked up in red, gold and green. I really don’t know what fun they all had on Christmas eve but as a mom, it gave me great pleasure to see the excitement with which they called each other up and made plans to ‘do something special’.  This year, Akshay must be watching over Sangeeta and Naina spending Christmas break with her parents while Neha and Pradish are doing the same with Pradish’s father. I am so happy to see pictures of Naina with Christmas décor in the background and shaking Santa’s hand. Takes me back to Akshay-Neha’s many Christmas parties in an Air Force Station. Akshay will approve of the fact that his precious ones are making the most of the festive season. 

 

Akshay raja had another side to his responsible, calm, committed and courageous self. He was quite a prankster and trying out a gag with someone he knew well was right up his ‘having fun’ street! Many remember how he would make these calls posing as a ‘Banker, Insurance agent or even a Mithai wala’ and manage to continue the conversation until both sides ended up laughing! He succeeded in fooling a few of us, but more often than not, he was identified and would say ‘Kya uncle, aap ne pehchaan liya?’ It was another of Akshay’s ways to keep in touch with people he cared about, no matter how far away he was, or how few the opportunities to meet.

A few months before he left us, Akshay came home for just one night to ‘be there’ for good friend Sujeev’s pre-wedding party. Just before going to pick up Sujeev, Akshay came running to me, naughty smiling face full of excitement, asking for ‘Kumkum thali’, flowers and a coconut. ‘We have  to do something dramatic and embarrass Sujeev when he comes out after doing the flight,’ he said, as he hurriedly gathered all I could give him. When Sujeev, in his crisp and smart Pilot’s uniform came out of the airport terminal, Akshay, Pooja, Aadhar and Priyanka ran towards him and in full public view, much to Sujeevs shock and the amusement of onlookers, a coconut was smashed on the kerb by Akshay while the girls gave Sujeev a big red ‘tilak’ and did the ‘Aarti’!  I am sure Sujeev and each member of the gang roped in by Akshay will have their versions of this story to narrate to their grandchildren! A Memory Bank can be very precious and Akshay is sure to be in many such Banks.

It is almost 13 months since Akshay. Earlier this month, we hosted a First Year Remembrance Day in Akshay’s honour and were emotional as well as grateful as so many people made it a point to attend. They came from across the country, just for being part of Akshay’s day, and we are deeply honoured that they took time off and made the trip to be with us. Not only from Akshay’s regiment and his brothers in arms but also school friends, teachers, students and Principals of institutions he had studied in, people who had never met Akshay, families of other brave martyrs (the DESH family) and the first citizen of Bengaluru- the Honourable Mayor.

What really matters in life, we are realising with more clarity than ever, is that living in the hearts of people even after life has ended makes people immortal. Many of those who came are known to us for decades and many others came for the first time, because of Akshay. They introduced themselves to us and we were deeply touched. I cannot find words to express what that meant to us. Our son is giving us reason to cheer even after he has gone elsewhere! I am reminded of Mary Angelou’s quote: ‘People may forget what you said, people may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Thoughts always take me back to how my Raja beta thrived on relationships. People were such an integral part of his life, and he made sure he gave every person he cared for reason to remember him for a long-long time to come.

Dr Imran speaking about Akshay at our home function went back to their days as kids in an Apartment block. He remembers how the kids had their different groups but Akshay was friends with every group! Narrating an incident of a ‘gully cricket’ match, Imran said; ‘Our team was weak and losing badly. Akshay was at the non-striker’s end while I, a non-player had to face the ball of a strong bowler. I was very nervous when Akshay walked across to me to say “Imran, tu kar sakta hai. I know you can do it…I am with you. Tu bas balla ghumake kar dega.To this day, Imran remembers how Akshay’s calm, morale boosting words brought out the best in him and how he not only struck the ball, but their team went on to win the match!

Akshay’s school friend and later fauji brother Preetham wrote in their school magazine about Akshay as his Friend and Hero. Talking about his own experience in school, he said ‘Many years ago, a 13 year old boy joined a boarding school. He was shy, timid and fearful of what he is going to face. The first few days, the other boys ignored him. Then they pushed him and picked on him. He was alone at his classroom desk, on the playground and in the dormitory. A week later, a boy with a beaming smile came up to the new boy. He told the new boy, not to worry; he was there to help him. He offered him a handshake and asked him if he wanted to be friends. Delightedly yet cautiously, the new boy grabbed onto the outstretched hand.

Akshay came to me when I was alone and needy, when I was scared and vulnerable. He came to me when no one else was ready to help or accept me. He rescued me from the hazards of the first few days in a boarding school, just as he rescued those helpless people from the malicious intents of terrorists.

He was large hearted, kind and spread happiness around him. His charming personality had the attention of the girls of Pune. His friendly behavior made him the core of a very large social circle. Many of my close friends today are those, who I would not have known, if it were not for him. Akshay, even to this day, I vividly remember your outstretched hand, and I will hold onto it forever.

Priyanka, another friend writes in her blog, ‘I remember how you told me to follow my dreams and passions and be more outgoing, how you read my poems and encouraged me to publish them even though you yourself were never willing to do so, because, ‘some things’ you said, ‘are just meant for friends and family’. I remember how you dared me to go skydiving or do something that would get my adrenaline pumping. Sorry still not courageous enough – but one day, maybe. I know that you wanted to meet Baby R but never got the chance – he’s two and a half years old now. Thank you for standing by me when I was having a tough time making some important decisions in my life and thank you for believing in me. She went on to post a video of the courtroom scene from ‘A Few Good Men’ – a movie Akshay had loved.

To try and take forward Akshay’s legacy of commitment to the Nation, we as a family have registered a family Trust. It is named ‘Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust’ and to start with, the Trust will award scholarships to students in college and school, who like Akshay, aim to defend, protect and serve our Nation. The scholarships we hope will not be limited to striving to enter the defence services, but also the civil services and paramilitary forces. As a family, we also hope to unite people and promote Nationalism, as we feel there is a real need and space to make a difference, however small, in this area. We have made a tiny beginning and look forward to all your ideas on how we can together take this endeavor forward in the months and years to come. Please do reach out to us with thoughts and suggestions

On the Remembrance Day function, my cousin brother Arun took on a difficult session that centered around ‘Sacrifice and Immortality’ with reference to all bravehearts. It was this session that deeply touched and inspired everyone present that day. Arun’s presentation drew from multiple ancient texts and spiritual sources to highlight values that build individual character for taking on larger responsibility. Beyond self and family. Something that each of us needs to consciously strive to do. Those who sacrifice their all for others and a greater cause become immortal. While accepting that Akshay’s physical presence is no longer with us, I now do believe he lives in a different realm and always will. I do hope families of Heroes who were present, Mr and Mrs Unnikrishnan, (parents of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan), Mrs Subhashini Vasanth (wife of Col Vasant Venugopal), Mrs Shakuntala Bhandarkar and Akshay (wife and son of Lt. Col Ajit Bhandarkar) Mrs Salma Shafeeq (wife of Major Shafeeq Ghori), Mrs Beena Thomas, Meghana and Philly (wife and children of Col Jojan Thomas) and extended family members also felt comforted by Arun’s session.

Each of our bravehearts stepped forward when they could have chosen to step back. Knowing how dangerously the odds were stacked against them, they still had the courage to ensure that commitment and responsibility took precedence over self and family. Even as I write this post,  images of four other brave soldiers being put to rest are being forwarded on social media. The price of freedom paid by few good men. So the rest of the nation can celebrate and sleep in peace.

To me, that Akshay went forward….. fighting to protect people he did not know….people who he felt he must save at any cost to himself….. consciously putting aside his own dreams with a loving family….that is the epitome of supreme sacrifice. Pride in Akshay often gives me the courage to stem my tears and wipe away those that force themselves out, despite gritting my teeth and clenching my lips. Known today as Akshay’s parents, we are also lucky to have such wonderful people around us, supporting us and cheering us in ways big and small. On our part, we have tried to reciprocate and will continue to reach out to everyone who feels as we do. The coming year/s will hopefully also make Akshay proud of his family.

I take this moment to wish each one of you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. May your relationships bloom and prosper and may we be there for those who need smiles and cheer.

Do take care and spread joy. Wishing each one of you peace, laughter and contentment in 2018. God bless you and your family.

 

 

38 thoughts on “MOVING AHEAD WITH AKSHAY: PROSPERING THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Well penned aunty…can understand and feel .. sailing in the same boat.. these boys came to earth for a short time but touched each heart they met and left stories behind..to be remembered,an inspiration to the society if understood…
    Regards
    Sunita dhonkaria

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    • I know Sunita….the boat sails even as loved ones get off it. They lived with purpose and did everything to perfection. We need to try and do our best, even in sorrow. Love and hugs to you. God bless your family.

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  2. Hats off to you, ma’am. I salute your courage in moving forward. I watched Sangeetha’s brave speech on the remembrance day. Her courage is admirable.

    I have been reading your blogs for the past year. Your positive spirit is infectious and gives hope to so many people. Please continue to post.

    Would like to watch all the sessions of the remembrance day. Are they available online.

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    • Thank you for reading and responding Sudha….appreciate your kind and thoughtful words. Sangeeta’s speech was posted online by Vikas Manhas from DESH. The other sessions are not yet online. Once the video footage is given to us, I will try and send the links.

      Wishing you and your family happiness in the coming year. God bless

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  3. A life so well lived.. Maj Akshay truly knew how to spread joy and positivity and no wonder then that his Rememberance Day would have also served as a day when others felt inspired. I believe it is Maj Akshay talking to all of us through various mediums like your blogs and the views that others hold for him. The fact that he is able to instil positivity in so many of us further corroborates my point of him having led such a ‘large’ life.
    Maj Akshay Girish Memorial Trust is such a thoughtful start. I wish it all the success and am hopeful that many patriots will rise from here.
    Lots of love and regards
    Ruchi

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    • I love your thoughts Ruchi…..do feverently hope Akshay knows we are connected through him. Hope we can take his courageous legacy and love for nation forward through the Trust. Look forward to ideas /thoughts on how we can make a difference. Love and God bless

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  4. Truly inspiring….Akshay is a person filled with optimism and each one of us have a lot to learn from him and of course from his family too … how simple things can bring happiness to others…. loads of love and respect aunty…. keep writing…

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  5. Truly contagious Smile of Maj Akshay! It’s like A blessed person who simply spreads d happiness all around…..dis anyone can make out even from d pics of him!! The exemplary…..the energetic happiest one ….the super calm…. highly impressive…..the real hero to his family as well as to his country!!! He is now living not only in one body but in d minds n hearts of soooo many people…. believe me!!! May d Divine give u many more reasons to u all…..to spread d fumes of courage n happiness all around!!! Maj Akshay is always with u….with all!!! God bless u n ur family Ma’am!!

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    • Your response made my day Namrata….yes, he radiated happiness and I basked in Akshay’s sunshine. To learn how to do so without seeing him around is the challenge. Trying to …maybe he will show me the way. His courage against all odds fills me with pride though. Love and God bless you all.

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  6. As always an inspiring write up which depicts immense courage . Thank u for sharing your thoughts Aunty . Hope they inspire more and more people to join and understand the sacrifice and the cost of freedom. Keep writing and motivating Aunty ! Love and regards !

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  7. Hi Aunty,

    So so beautiful, brilliant idea of registering the “Family Trust”! So much to learn from your family & most importantly you!
    I have been a silent reader of ALL your posts for a while now – was unwell for the past 2 months n trying to bounce back to life now. Hope you remember me 🙂

    Bright & Warm wishes to everyone in your family!

    Love,
    Khush

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    • Am happy to hear from you again Khush- please do take care of your health. Anything I can do to help? Thank you for reading my posts- touched. Lots of love to you- sending you positivity and strength to get well soon. Any ideas on taking forward Akshay’s Trust? Look forward to thoughts. Until then, happy new year to you and your family in advance. God bless you all.

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  8. A very happy christmas & new year aunty & everyone of our awsome fauzi family.Aunty Maj.Akshay taught us all to live life king sized & we are truely happy to learn about him & u all through your writings.I heard Sangeeta’s msg in a video & was very happy to see her moving on so courageously truely fauzi wife way.Reading about u all gives us immense courage & pride.Aunty I have been blessed with a baby boy on 20th dec i have named him Bikram,Bless himthat he grows up to a good person & guide me with your blog so that i excel as a mother.love & tkcr.

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    • Lisa, love you …..and your little one’s name too! Bikram, God bless you with love, joy, courage and peace little one. May he be your strength and also your family’s pride Lisa. Thank you for your lovely message – will convey to Sangeeta. Happy new year in advance to you and your family. God bless

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  9. Dear dear Meghna….I wish i could have been there at The Remembrance Day. I read every blog of yours and every time my heart swells with pride….this time it’s swelled with so much more pride for knowing you for having met you for having you as a friend!!! The Family Trust you are starting is just such a brilliant idea and gesture! Through other children you keep Akshay alive! Love you Meghna…my love and respect to you and the family…The Bravest ever!!

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    • Missed you Ruma and you you were very much there in spirit. Love to you and here’s wishing you and the entire family a very happy new year in advance.

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  10. i am a silent reader of your blogs since d day sir had attained martyrdom.Everytme i read your write-ups tears roll down on my cheeks.u and neha maam who had spent the max tym wid akshay sir. Having a son who made u feel proud today is not around you .i can feel the pain of a brave mom.But maam continue your stories about akshay sir it will assist naina in her upcoming days to know him well and somewhere these posts will connect akshay sir to naina.Happy that in remembrance of sir u started a trust to keep him alive in every ♥.Many officers attained martyrdom but very few are alive in the hearts of million people,but akshay sir is truly a fortunate officer that he was blessed wid a mom lyk u.A mom who nvr let his matyrdom to go in vain.maam do make a visit to uttarakhand!! wholesome a patriotic state.looking forward to meet u in person.stay fit maam to keep your akshay alive.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful words and for reading my posts on Akshay. We are blessed that a child like Akshay was born in our home. Yes, Neha and her twin were deeply bonded. The loss of a sibling is often underestimated and generally does not get recognised like that of spouse, parents and kids. You have been very perceptive although silent. Uttarakhand is very close to my heart- my father served the nation as an officer of a great Regiment- the Garhwal Rifles. Its a small world- maybe we will meet in Uttarakhand or in Bangalore in 2018? Take care. God bless you and your family.

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  11. Dear Aunty,
    Happy New Year to you n your family. Few months back I started reading your blog but I couldn’t bear the pain…but this time I read all your previous blogs also at one go. Aunty I must say you are a very good writer..you have penned down journey of your dear son so nicely.. Thank you for such beautiful blogs,it will inspire many people. I have decided to read out all your blogs to my 7 year daughter. Aunty, you are really an amazing person, it reflects in your blogs..you honestly tried to remain positive throughout this journey..you and your family have given your most precious thing for this country, for us..thank you will be very small word for it but I still want to say Aunty thank you..

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    • I am so so touched by your words Amruta. That you find my blog good enough to read to your young daughter is the best compliment. Thank you for reading and reaching out. I feel more strongly each day that somehow Akshay is connecting all of us us and guiding his mother to make this journey fulfilling despite immense loss. God bless your daughter. Love and take care.

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      • Dear Aunty
        Hello.
        Thanks for the blessings to my daughter, your blessings really matters. In fact your blogs are not less than blessing..story of a such a warm, caring,cheerful yet so focused, determined person will really help her to grow up as a better human being. We have already started reading but on very first day she asked me some questions and I had no answers like why these terrorists come to our country, can’t they stay peacefully at their homes and only bad people should be killed, why our soldiers have to sacrifice their lives,its definitely not done..
        Dear Aunty, I was really short of words at that time.
        And yes Aunty Major Ashay is really bringing us close. Your blogs have given him second birth, this time for strangers like us. It really feels that we know him, we know all of you. He is with us forever through your blogs,terrorism can not snatch him from us now.
        Dear Aunty, Do take very good care of yourself n your family and keep writing because,
        Many more hearts are still to be touched;
        Many more minds are still to be enlightened.
        Love you

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your little one’s questions brought tears and your words gave solace as well Amruta. Love and God bless. Take good care and keep smiling.

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  12. I keep reading your writings aunty…Give me solace ..Make me reflect on all that I went through and feel comforted… Akshay truly is a star who has brightened all of us in ways unknown.. Sometimes I wonder how could an individual so young at age have such a deep understanding of life and the way it should be lead..He truly was a soul apart who though in a very short span has lived a life worthwhile…Love to all of you aunty.. Always with you

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    • Love to you always Shivangi. Akshay is definitely a super star. I am lucky to be his mother and know that. Glad we are connected through him. God bless you all. Wishing you and wonderful 2018.

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  13. You know aunty I never consider the past tense for sir Akshay as he lives around you and your family always. Death is the fact that can never be ignored but the death which brings pride is the only the loss of physical existence. I am sure you feel your son’s presence in every passing moment.
    He goes nowhere,he just changes his form.
    The little boy who could not pronounce uniform rightly,keeps the honour of his uniform till his last breath.
    Salute to your son aunty.
    Salute to the best soul.
    Please allow us to know more about sir Akshay.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved your message Doyel- thank you so much for reading and responding. Yes, do feel Akshay’s presence all the time. Speak to him within myself many times. He will always be there with us. Love to you and God bless your family. Jai Hind.

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      • Aunty, don’t stop us to know about him. Sir is truly a brave heart but u are strong too. it’s not easy to pen down with a broken heart. your loss can not be compensated in any way but your initiatives in memory of sir must give you some peace.
        I am also a mother of a boy of 2 years old. when we are playing with each other,i always keep telling stories of sir. i know that he does not make out my words but may be some day he will realise why our army men are called the Savior.
        How is sangita? Does naina enjoy her school?
        Love you.
        Take care. someone out there must expecting the smile of your family.
        Jai hind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are such an understanding person Doyel. A wonderful mother for sure. Yes, Sangeeta and Naina are happy with school. Trying to smile and concious of Akshay’s brave example. Jai Hind..

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  14. Dear aunty,
    As always you have penned done yet another quality of Akshay valuing relationship among people. Being a human is all that is needed in this world. It is the lack of humanity is what gives way to all sorts of problems. Glad to know from your post that Akshay had worn that great virtue on his sleeves. It is because of that he and other Bravehearts were able to make a huge difference in other people lives, no matter whether they knew them or not. You are his blessed parents, aunty!!!! I hope Sangeeta, Naina , Neha and Pradish had a good break. Am sorry that I couldn’t make a trip Bengaluru during this trip but I promise you are in my thoughts and prayers. Also congratulations to you and your family on the initiative of Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust that will be instrumental to support the deserving candidates and giving more number of good people to the society and the Nation. Happy to be of support when and where it is possible for us to contribute. It will be great to watch the video footage of Major Akshay’s Remembrance Day. Awaiting more of your inspiring article in this New year, aunty. Love and prayers, Amritha

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    • Yes Rakhi, I am very lucky to be the mother of Akshay- a perfect human being and real life hero. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. God bless you and your family.

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    • I will consider your request and that of others too Rakhi. I have never written a book but maybe, one day Akshay’s story can become my first. I have to wait and see if this will happen. Take care. Love to you.

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