CONNECTED BY AKSHAY: LEARNING TO READ THE SIGNS

The past few weeks have been very tough emotionally. Seeing friends battling unexpected illness, sudden untimely deaths, a spate of attempted suicides among young members of our domestic help, shocked and worried families, and my own difficulties in coping without Akshay. When at a loss of how to help others, the one person who I relied on, my all-time ‘on call’ and most reliable ‘solution master’ and ‘mood-uplifter’ is hard to reach now. He always knew what to say and do, when, where and how. Which is why, so many knew they always had that one strong and cheerful shoulder to lean on, to cry on and move on. Akshay, you are missed more than you will ever know.

 

Hard to reach I did say, but not impossible to connect to. Eighteen months since Akshay, I have to admit that despite resistance to non-conventional ways of healing, partly due to old-habits of following the logical ‘scientific approach,’ I have found myself amazed and comforted by Akshay in strange ways. A lot of the credit goes to new young friends who have reached out with their own experiences to cope with loss. And since its happened many times in the last few months, I’ve begun to believe there’s more to certain ‘signs’ than meets the eye. From comforting dreams of an ever smiling son saying ‘don’t worry ma, sab theek ho jayega’ (dont worry mom, all will be fine), to being amazed at listening to the lullaby I always sang to Akshay, when, unable to fall asleep, I switch on the TV. From the Bharadwaj (Greater Coucal) bird that appears while I am at my lowest, to the ring tone (‘Lakshya toh, har haal mein paana hai’), when I called back to return a stranger’s missed call. Each seemingly ordinary ‘coincidence’ tells me that Akshay is with me. That he is holding me every time I stumble or feel overwhelmed with grief. And its truly amazing how these tiny ‘energy jabs’ can propel me from depressed and teary to cheerful and strong!

 I can say with experience now, that any steps that take you from despair to hope is the right way forward. From reaching out to people, seeking a counsellor/ psychiatrist, finding strength through exercise, hobbies or prayer and in seeking spiritual solace, there is no ‘wrong way’ to cope. Whatever is right for you is what you need. For any of you stuck, bogged down or at the cross roads, listen to those who have experienced trying times, trust the signs and your instinct. Maybe it is foolish for me to open up with my thoughts and strange experiences on social space, but if they can help someone else who is going through tough times, why not?! A special thank you to friends Mitali, Simran and Preeti who have urged and guided me to explore and experience healing. Always so much to learn from young people, isn’t it?

So here I am, back in the living room making eye contact with Akshay’s beautiful, calm and steady gaze. The hint of a smile in the picture in front. Helping me sort my thoughts and let my words express themselves.

On 26th May 2018, the family woke up to news reports stating ‘Big Breakthrough in Nagrota Attack- NIA Report’, ‘NIA Confirms Jaish Hand in 2016 Nagrota Attack’ and ‘NIA Arrests JeM Operative Involved in Nagrota Attack.’ As the stomach cramped and the heart thudded, I read every sentence of each report, looking for something we did not already know. The breakthrough in the probe came with the arrest of Kupwara resident Syed Muneer Ul Hassan Qadri, suspected of assisting the Pakistani terrorists who carried out the attack’ said the reports, and went on to give details. Two other arrests were subsequently made- timber merchant Tariq Ahmed Dar from Pulwama and another JeM operative Ashiq Qadri Baba, from Srinagar. Confirming that the attack was planned and plotted in Pakistan and was carried out by terrorists of the Maulana Masood Azhar-led Jaish-e-Mohammad, the NIA report elaborated on how three JeM terrorists from Pakistan had the support of Huriyat leaders and how they infiltrated across Samba, that they stayed in a Jammu hotel, were brought in a vehicle to a point outside Nagrota camp by the local terrorists, that they attacked wearing police uniforms and that all three were eventually killed. Huge cache of fire arms, ammunition, explosives and other articles were recovered from the deceased, including Under Barrel Grenade Launchers(UBGL) which pointed out how they were prepared for the long haul and determined to inflict maximum damage. Also that the terrorists had been in touch with their Pakistani handlers and a hefty amount of money originating from the Gulf countries was transferred into Baba’s HDFC Bank account.

In all these details, only one line stated ‘seven army personnel including two officers were killed.’ Not a single newspaper even named our martyred soldiers. Not a single sentence about how swiftly the QRT from the neighboring unit responded to pin down the terrorists to one location, how long and hard they fought to save the lives of trapped families and how the officers Kunal and Akshay gave their all for the honour and safety of the country, the trapped families and the Indian army and the men under their command. Saddened and angry, I was reminded of a telling news-paper report by Journalist Chooda Shivaram published a day after Akshay’s final farewell a year and half ago. The heading ‘Will the Country Forget Him Faster Than Kejriwal’s Dramas’ hits where it really hurts.

 

Naina’s questions are changing as she is growing and at 4 and half, she asks, ‘Is my papa not coming back because he does not love me? I miss my papa, why can’t I see him?’ I am waiting for her to be old enough to read the national news-papers herself. The ones that said ‘Soldiers Died Saving 2 Babies, 2 Women, Unarmed Men at Nagrota Base’ along with others like ‘Major hostage situation was narrowly averted in Nagrota’; ‘Valiant fight by Quick Response Teams saved the day’, with her papa’s picture in all of them. If I am still around, those newspapers will be safely preserved for Naina to read and understand what her papa did. Also, she will have clarity on why he now gets to see her from the stars, and that she just needs to think of him and close her eyes, to be able to see him.

Similar to the terrorist attack at Nagrota, an army camp was attacked in Sunjwan near Jammu, this year. Soon after the Sunjwan attack led to tragic loss of lives and many injuries among soldiers and family members, I received a message from a young officer’s wife. Herself a decorated hero’s daughter, she wrote, ‘Dear aunty, the recent attacks have made me constantly think of all of you since the past few days. This is the Universe’s way of making us realise the damage Maj Akshay saved from happening in Nagrota. Last week we were talking about Maj Akshay and I told Shorya, “I wish Maj Akshay hadn’t gone that day.” Yesterday he sent me a message with the list of civilian casualties and wrote “This is what Akshay saved from happening in Nagrota”.   No greater honour than his brothers in the Fauj expressing pride in Akshay’s courage and selfless sacrifice.

Which brings me to the Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust. We as a family feel very strongly that no matter what, Akshay’s brave and inspiring legacy must continue to motivate people. This will be our tribute to all soldier heroes who chose to give their all for India. We have made a modest start with hard earned savings to initiate and support activities aimed at promoting service to the Nation. The First day-long workshop for students’ aspiring to earn the Uniforms that Serve the Nation will be held in Bengaluru, on Sunday, 8th July 2018. Students currently studying in schools and colleges (class 10 to undergraduate degrees) will be lucky to interact with Soldier Officers and gain a lot of information and guidance from experts, to prepare for the tough UPSC examinations and SSB interviews. If some of you young readers are also keen on attending the workshop, please do take a look at the ‘Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust’ website and write to us. While seats are limited, we will try to accommodate you. Here is the link. I invite each of you to take a look at the wedsite pages and give your valuable inputs to improve on it.

https://majorakshaytrust.org/;

On behalf of Akshay’s family, we are deeply grateful to all of you for sharing our difficult journey. A journey guided by Akshay, along a path we are determined to walk on. We may stumble and falter along the way, but we are not giving up. With the strength we get from Akshay, together with your continuing support, I do believe we can all do our best to contribute to our country in different ways.

Always look forward to your feedback, your thoughts and suggestions on moving forward.

Best wishes and God bless

Jai Hind.

Meghna Girish

40 thoughts on “CONNECTED BY AKSHAY: LEARNING TO READ THE SIGNS

  1. Maa, me going through a bad phase in life, has definitely been boosted with ur post. Thank u for such a beautiful write up. Akshay bro is immortal. To me, he is an icon. Kicky’s superhero. Let me know if I can be of any use for his trust. Love for u all.

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    • You dont get bogged down Soumi. Draw on your strength within and reach out to people around you. Sending you love. Thank you for the offer of help for the Trust activities. Do need good wishes as of now.

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    • Mam may god bless you with strength and happiness;this is what major akshay girish also wants;and he is always with you;you just cant see him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Aunty,
    Touched by your post.
    One thing that Maj Akshay has taught all of us is the ‘never say die’ spirit. No matter how bad things are and how low one feels, it can only get better from there. We must keep trying and not give up at any cost. Incorporating his views and your views in our life to make it more fulfilling.
    I also appreciate the thought that there is ‘no wrong way’ to cope with one’s feelings. I also believe that everyone should be true to their feelings even at the cost of being labelled as a non conformist.
    My heart goes out to the martyr jawans and their families who suffer in silence and isolation. For lack of education and resources, they dont have the means to reach out to others. In this regard, you are doing a wonderful deed in letting us in your life to know what martyrs families go through. It ia true that in our media savvy society, news becomes old news very fast.
    We are with you always aunty.. now connected with this unseen unknown bond. Maj Akshay Girish Memorial Trust will help the youngsters in many ways and we will have more bravehearts like him.
    Lots of love to Naina. I have seen my second cousin grow into a confident 19 year old under the circumstances that she never even saw her papa who got martyred while she was still in her mother’s womb. She too will sail through with such a strong support system at home.
    Regards
    Ruchi

    Liked by 1 person

    • So nice to read all your thoughts and experiences Ruchi. Glad the young one had love and support. My best wishes to her. Yes, we are connected and need all your good wishes for taking forward Akshay’s passion for helping others. Love and God bless

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  3. Hello Ma’am!
    Reading your accounts of such sweet memories with Maj Akshay brings me both smiles and tears and yet fills me with pride. Coming from a defence background, I can relate to what its like for our men and women in uniform to give all in the service of the nation. It would be dishonest to say that I understand your loss. Maj Akshay made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty. Its unfortunate that such sacrifices only live in the short term memory of several sections of our society. But ma’am, we are with you always and Maj Akshay will always live in our memories and prayers. When Naina grows old enough to know what her father did, she will be nothing but proud of him. Thank you for sharing all these beautiful moments of your life with us. Best wishes to all of you ma’am! Please keep writing and keep smiling!

    Navin

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    • Thank you for your pride in Akshay and for your understanding and support. Matters a lot. Naina calls her papa a hero and when she grows up, she is going to be even more proud of the way he lived life, touched lives and gave his life. Best wishes to you too. Take care. God bless

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  4. After watched Razi movie in last the last song suddenly i remember Akshay’s sir with my teary eyes. and i though agar aaj akshay sir hote to wo bhi yhi khte..
    ”Ae watan, watan mere, aabaad rahe tu..Main jahan rahun, jahaan me yaad rahe tu
    Mai rahu ya na rahe koi nishaan mera..Mehfooz haatho mai rahega ye jahan mera-
    Tujhpe koi gham ki aanch aane nahin doon..Kurbaan meri jaan tujhpe, shaad rahe tu..
    Pahunchu main jahaan bhi.. Meri buniyad rahe tu..
    No words to express my feelings right now…..We always wait for your writings.. Please keep inspire us aunty..
    Jai Hind…

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    • Yes Anshu, Akshay would have loved Raazi and the song definitely suits him. Feeling emotional thinking of the love and pride you are all feeling for Akshay. God bless you. Sending love. Jai Hind.

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  5. As always dear Meghna, reading your narrative moved me deeply. I did mention to you some time back that i only had one fleeting moment with dear Akshsy at a function. And yet, i had a dream where he and i met and hugged each other only as military comrades do and i could feel his porcupine hair on my cheek. You and Girish sir have been supremely brave and inspiring over the past 18 months. Your noble gesture of starting a trust in memory of our HERO will benefit and motivate many to tread on the path that Akshay did. May God bless you, little Naina and your entire gallant family. Om Shanti and Jai Hind.

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    • Dear Harish, I am sure there is a connection between Akshay and you- which lifetime I do not know. He shared a post where you paid tribute to a war veteran and you shared a dream of him, after he left us. Thank you for your kind words. Girish and the rest of our family hope to take forward Akshay’s commitment to the nation in our small way. God bless your family too. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Aunty,
    Touched by your post.
    We are with you always aunty………….
    now connected with this unseen unknown bond. Maj Akshay Girish Memorial Trust will help the youngsters in many ways & for sure we will have more bravehearts like him.

    May god bless u with lot of strength & happiness Aunty . Brother Akshay Will be with u always.
    Convey my love to Sangeeta & Naina 😘😘

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    • Thank you Chitra. I hope we are able to take forward Akshay’s commitment to the motherland. Nothing can ever come close to his own efforts and sacrifice though. God bless you all with joys and smiles.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Aunty,
    Touched by your post.
    We are with you always aunty………….
    now connected with this unseen unknown bond. Maj Akshay Girish Memorial Trust will help the youngsters in many ways & for sure we will have more bravehearts like him.

    May god bless u with lot of strength & happiness Aunty . Brother Akshay Will be with u always.
    Convey my love to Sangeeta & Naina 😘😘

    Like

  8. Namaste Aunty. This is definitely a very noble initiative. Please let me know if I can be of any help. People need to be sensitized about our armed forces. Being a part of this trust is the least that we can do, to show our gratitude towards Major Akshay.
    I haven’t met him, but looking at his photographs, which are so full of life, I am so much inspired – the way one should live life.
    His sacrifice will never be forgotten and he will always be looked upon as a role model.
    Sending love to you and family.
    Regards
    Juhi

    Liked by 2 people

    • Akshay was definitely full of life but his commitment to his country made him lead the fight and sacrifice his life. Thank you for your words of comfort. Hope we can make a useful contribution though the Trust. Love and God bless to you and family.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Stnding on the banks of a river we can not judge the depth but jist feel the breeze and the pleasant view od the river flow. I can understand the void but can certainly feel proud to have had such brave n slefless officers serving on the front for our country.
    Best wishes and god bless

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Aunty every month as the month end approaches i wait to hear from you.Nainu will grow up to learn about her papa’s heroic deed that saved so many lives.we are connected through the Akshay bond an immortal strength of humanity hope that our coming generations keep up the legacy and honour of our armed forces.on my end Bikram is 5 and half and on 18th ju e we plan for a satyanarayan puja & annaprasan ceremony for him ,bless him aunty that he grows up to do something good for the nation & above all be a good human being.sending love and respect to u all.Tkcr god bless .

    Liked by 2 people

    • With you as his parent dear Lisa, I have no doubt that Bikram will be a wonderful human being and contribute to the nation. Best wishes for the annaprasan and pujas. God bless you all.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Dear Aunty,
    Thank you for writing the next article. Sincerely appreciate your time and effort. I also believe in the signs which I call as the ones sent by the universe both in times of happiness and in sorrow and have always found a special strength and message from them. It was nice to read about it. Don’t worry aunty we are always with you and everyone in the family are in our thoughts and prayers. Am sure one day the sacrifice of Akshay and the other bravehearts will be rewarded magnificently and we will continue to live as good human and be of service to the needful to the best of our abilities. Love and prayers, Amritha

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for reading and responding Amritha. Glad so many of us do feel the signs are not mere coincidences. Akshay gives me strength and a sense of direction and I hope we can together be of some service to others. Sending you love. God bless

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Can I offer a small financial contribution towards the trust and if so how? I am a staunch Bengal Sapper ESM from 51 ER. With best wishes. Col Navkesh Singh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So thoughtful of you Col Navkesh Singh. Thank you. As of now, we are not accepting contributions but as time goes, we may need to. Will definitely keep your offer in mind. Warm regards to you and your wife.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Dear aunty,
    It’s a blessing from the almighty to have the soldiers like major saab in India. Such young men are treasures for the countrymen. it’s unfortunate but it’s a fact that we don’t pay much respect to those who have done with their lives for us. We are happy with our so called happy life untill we face the same grief of losing the most loved person of our life.
    Your initiative to show the way to young generation will help them to achieve their goals. Persons like u are role models to us because u have the guts to overcome your sorrow in such manner. I salute u. It’s incredible to think that a mother who have lost her young son is encouraging others in this way. I must not forget to salute your family also.
    Major sir will always be remembered by us. Mothers like you will always be worshiped.
    Thank you aunty for everything.words will fall short to describe how deep is your impression in my life!
    Love and power to you.
    My good wishes are always there for your family.
    Major Akshay Girish will remain alive till my last breath for sure.
    Jai hind.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Dear Meghna,
    Firstly, allow me to say that Major Akshay is a role model for all of us who gave supreme sacrifice for our nation. I salute our martyr! His actions were truly inspirational for the generation of young officers who are always striving to lead from the front. Remember, Soldiers NEVER DIE. Major Akshay will always be remembered by all of us in the uniform. Trust me Naina will grow into a proud girl of a tall father whose sacrifice is unmatched. Me and my wife read your write up….cried.. but ended up with immense sense of pride – WE BELONG TO A CLAN WHERE WE HAVE LADY WIVES LIKE YOU! No words can ever define your guts. Bow our head!

    I am a serving officer of the Indian Army. Will be taking over the command of a Brigade soon. Please do let me know, anytime, if Indian Army can contribute in your noble initiative. The Indian Army would be honoured and privileged to join you in all your endeavours.

    with deep respects and warm regards
    nonie & guri sahota

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nonie and Guri Sahota,

      The first thought that came to me is how happy Akshay would have felt to read your words- coming from a senior. Yes, he led an inspired life and went a hero and it gives us solace to know he made the Indian Army proud. Girish joins me in conveying our best wishes to you as you go on to greater responsibilities in service of the nation. Thank you for your support to our initiative. Its early days yet and we hope to learn to contribute effectively as we move ahead on the path. We will definitely look forward to your ideas and help. Please keep in touch.

      Take care. God bless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had somehow missed your post this time Meghna – was thinking today that it has been long since your last post and then found this. As always, I relate to you as a mother and try to put myself in your place everytime I read what you write. You are so strong – that kind of strength to cope with loss can only come from God. May you and the rest of your family be blessed always.

        Looking forward to your next post!

        Naomi

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for staying with us on this journey. Trying to be strong but not really succeeding! Do believe that this ability to deal with this unimaginable loss is coming from Akshay and God.

        Sending you love and may God always bless your family.

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  15. Hello aunty,

    I really liked the way you’re seeing those little “signs” that Major is always with you. Indeed, he is and he will always be there. Like a gentle but strong force, he’s always around. As your grand daughter gets older, she will feel her daddy guiding her through life’s tough decisions with ease. A simple “what would daddy have done/ said in this situation?” will be the only answers she will need!

    It’s a pleasure reading your accounts Aunty. Born and raised in an army family, the sense of patriotism and love for the tricolour and the nation, and admiration and appreciation for our country’s martyrs and soldiers comes from within, it’s almost as if it’s in our DNA!!! I therefore do understand, my blood boils too, when our soldiers are treated in a trivial manner by the media/ politicians etc. This attitude needs to change.

    The trust is a great initiative by you Aunty, Major Akshays legacy will continue and live on by inspiring our country’s next gen joining the uniformed forces- and even if they can’t, contribute to nation building in any way possible- by being motivated by gems like Maj Akshay- for whom it was always “country first!”.

    Please let us know if we can contribute in any way. My father is an Indian army veteran and he will only be too happy to contribute his time, efforts and financially into the foundation!

    Take care Aunty!

    Love and kind regards,

    Meenakshi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Am really happy to hear from you Meenakshi- do know what it is to have the Fauji sense of patriotism and respect for our protectors in the DNA!

      We are staring off with Trust activities to take forward Akshay’s inspiring life and hope we will make a small difference. Many have pitched in with ideas and as resource persons for taking workshop sessions. Will post updates as and when things unfold.

      Thank you for your offer of help. Our regards and respects to your Veteran dad and mom. Love and God bless your family

      Like

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