FINDING NEW MEANING: PILGRIMAGE LIKE NEVER BEFORE

When I started writing this post last evening, a nation was united in collective hopes and prayers for #JusticetoNirbhaya. Despite shifting of the death penalty date 4 times by delay tactics of their lawyer, today’s dawn is bright with prayers answered and faith restored. All 4 convicts have been hanged by order of the Court, bringing a sense of closure for brave parents Asha Ji and Badrinath Ji, who for over 7 years, despite grief, fought unrelentingly for their daughter’s soul to rest in peace. Finally, Nirbhaya’s ‘Jyothi’ burns bright, the glow spreading like a beacon of hope for efforts towards justice delivery.

As the Corona Virus Outbreak spreads across many countries, India is also feeling the heat with many testing positive for the ‘made in China’ infection. With last night’s address to the nation, our Prime Minister lived up-to his image of a statesman-leader, exhorting all citizens to be part of the solution, rather than add to the problem. While wholeheartedly following our government’s guidelines for prevention, I take this opportunity to re-connect with you all, after a long break.

 

Naina has been home with me this week while Sangeeta is working from her home. Its been a lot of fun painting pots and a birdbath, writing notes to each other and block printing on bandanas and napkins! Last evening, Naina got ‘Alexa’ to play songs she associates with Akshay- ‘Tu Mera Hero’, ‘Teri Meherbani’ and ‘Papa Kehte Hain’, and while she danced, I pretended to be busy writing. When I stole glances at her, saw her trying to sing along, often pointing at Akshay’s photographs as if singing to him, at times climbing on to the bench to touch his face or adjust her medal on his photograph. She does these actions with cheer and a happy smile and I am filled with love and admiration for the way she has handled the tremendous loss and subsequent changes in her life. Credit to Anirudh for being a fond ‘daddy’ who spends a great deal of quality time with Naina.

With Akshay’s smiling photographs looking back at me, I am grateful that so many of you have reached out asking why I haven’t written yet this year, and that you are waiting for my post. This however, is going to be a longer than usual post, as I cannot do justice to our bravehearts, by cutting down on what I want to share from experience. Connected by Akshay, let me try and take you on a long and very unique non-religious pilgrimage from which we have recently returned.

After Sangeeta and Anirudh decided on getting a new car, Girish and I became very sentimental at the thought of Akshay’s beloved ‘red beauty’ being bought by someone unknown. We asked Sangeeta if we could instead gift the car to his extended family- his ‘meri unit’(my unit), the 51 Engineer Regiment. Things started falling into place end of last year when Girish spoke to Akshay’s friend Samarth, who in turn took it up with the unit. Soon, our idea of Akshay’s car being used by his brothers in arms and their families was happily accepted by the CO.

Girish made the most of driving his son’s car for a couple of months before it left us. Given a choice of ‘which car’, Naina too would ask to be picked up from school or taken to her tennis class in ‘papa’s car.’ As 2020 arrived, Girish got Akshay’s car well serviced and ready for his other, larger family. I have to say at this point, that when Girish met the RTO in Devanahalli to ask about the process of transferring the vehicle, the official was most helpful and extremely efficient in ensuring that the papers were ready in record time. We were deeply touched that he refused to even take the transfer fee and insisted on paying it himself, saying, ‘Sir, let me do at least this much for a brave martyr’. Akshay’s friend Amit took on the car transportation responsibility and made arrangements to have it reach Delhi safely by truck. Just before it left our home, the girls Sangeeta, Neha and Naina came over for a final ride around the colony and we took some ‘bye-bye photographs.’

 

It was Vikas Manhas’s idea to undertake a road journey from Delhi to Himachal Pradesh, via Haryana and Punjab, driving Akshay’s car and paying our tributes to families of other martyred soldiers and ending at his unit’s new location. Girish and I flew to Delhi, and after a pleasant evening with friends, started our ‘Shaheed Nivas Yatra’.

Last February, days after India lost 42 brave CRPF soldiers in the dastardly attack by a suicide bomber in Pulwama, Maj Vibhuti S Dhondiyal and his QRT took on the responsibility of neutralizing Jaish terrorists on the run. Nitika, martyred Major Dhondiyal’ s young wife and I have since been connected over phone conversations and finally, we visited her in her parents Delhi home. The warmest possible hug felt like one from my own daughter. Nitika proudly showed us her ‘Vibhu’s’ uniform, medals & other most loved personal possessions, before bringing out their wedding album.

Girish and I watched Nitika relive those beautifully precious moments of joy as she turned each page with gorgeous images of their fairy tale wedding. Explaining the many sweet traditions, her face was aglow when she pointed at the photographs saying ‘aunty this was so much fun… my Vibhu looks so handsome here… this is my sister…. Look at us dancing…. I love this photograph…..look at Ma here….‘ and so on’ Life has been so unfair to Vibhu and Nitika. Barely 10 months after their beautiful wedding, Major Vibhuti Dhondiyal, SC, had to put aside dreams with his young wife and thoughts of his mother and sisters, to pursue, fight selflessly and make the supreme sacrifice for the nation. In her acceptance and courage, Nitika’s smile and cheer radiates vulnerability, strength and positivity. Her holding onto love and longing in a way broke my heart and yet, reassured me that over time, she will outdo herself in making Vibhu as proud of her as she is of him.

 

That night, during dinner with Amit, Shrishti and more of Akshay’s seniors, brothers and families currently in Delhi, I received worried phone calls from my parents. They were watching TV reports of violent communal clashes in Delhi, incidentally, on the day US President Donald Trump was leaving after his India visit. It wasn’t until few days later that the horror of all that was unleashed in the name of ‘protests’ became known to all. I assured my mother that we were fine, that the clashes were only in one part of Delhi and that we would be leaving Delhi the next morning.

With Vikas taking the wheel at sunrise, roads leading out of Delhi were fairly empty. In the back seat, my thoughts went to 1991. Our last long journey by road, had been along with our 5-year-old twins, in an old Premier Padmini from Bengaluru to Gorakhpur, with many stop-overs enroute. Akshay and Neha loved and always spoke of that road trip, particularly a most memorable 2 nights stay at Kanha National Park. Not having Akshay in his car was so odd, and yet, it felt like he wanted us to do this trip, and was somehow making it happen.

Soon Delhi was behind us and in front was only fog. Fog so thick that none of us could see beyond 2 feet, not even the edge of the road, leave alone any vehicle ahead, beside or behind. Vikas was being tested for his driving skills over the next hour plus and we passed by two major pile ups of buses, trucks and cars before the fog started thinning out. We were lucky not to have been hit from behind or bumped into any vehicle in front.

Young braveheart Capt Pawan Kumar’s parents live in Jind. You may recall that when Capt Pawan of Para SF was heroically martyred fighting terrorists holed up in a building in Pampore in February 2016, his teacher father Rajvir Singh had said ‘We had one son who we gave to the nation. No father can be prouder’. At their home, welcomed by his parents and Pawan’s many life-like photographs, we felt overwhelmed at their loss. As we bonded and shared stories of our respective sons, we were elated to be introduced to twin baby girls, 11-month-old Divya and Divyanshi. ‘Pawan ke jaane ke baad, jeene ka jaise kaaran hi nahi raha. Phir humne decision liya aur Bhagwan ne hame raasta dikhaya (After Pawan’s leaving us, it seemed like we had no reason to live on. It was then we took a decision and God showed us the way).’ Capt Pawan’s tiny twin siblings look exactly like their hero brother’s baby pictures. The joy and cheer they have brought into a grieving home is a huge blessing, and we are sure they will grow up proud of their inspirational brother, who now also has a university named after him in their hometown. After much warmth and shared thoughts and emotions, the two fathers took a photograph with their son’s cars and we were soon on our way to Chandigarh.

 

Beautiful planned city Chandigarh is filled with very close friends and we were received with love by Babli and Jasbir Walia. The next evening, Akshay’s car was at the centre of a wonderful group of young people we were meeting over coffee for the first time. Amid a very pleasant evening of chatter, we learnt that Aditi, Shreya and Moulik are all studying and their aim is to do their best to serve the nation. Aditi gifted Akshay his most beautiful card yet, with a lovely message on how he inspires her, and I can’t but imagine how pleased Akshay would be, receiving it.

Early the next morning, before setting off from Chandigarh, we made a quick visit to the home of martyred Flt Lt Vineet Bharadwaj. Strong, smiling Rita must have been through so much in raising one-year old Ashrey so beautifully. The teenager is not only a reflection of his handsome father but also wants to don the IAF uniform after college. We had a ‘fan moment’ on learning that this young lad plays professional football and is currently in the Punjab FC team. Also sure his air warrior father is looking down on Ashrey with quiet pride and will guide him along a fulfilling path in his journey ahead.

 

Akshay’s friend Amit displaced Vikas and Girish in the driver’s seat for the long drive ahead and as the car sped through ‘DDLJ- like’ fields of swaying wheat and yellow sarsoon (mustard) flowers, sitting in the rear seat, I kept feeling as if Akshay is driving us. Maybe it was the shape of Amit’s head and ears, glimpses of the sunny smile in the rear-view mirror, the stylish stance and the arm movement when he changed gears…? Imagining my raja beta at the wheel, I found myself smiling to myself, happy in my thoughts. An unexpected call from Nitika Dhondiyal telling us her SSB results were out and she had made it to OTA was the icing on our cake! Nitika will soon have her Vibhu’s stars on her own shoulders and from the stars, he will be smiling proudly at his wife.

Nangal, the town known for the amazingly constructed Bhakra Nangal Dam which forms the Ganga-Sagar reservoir is also now famous as the hometown of Kargil hero Capt Amol Kalia. The park, road and arch are all named in his honour and when we stopped to ask a Sikh gentleman for directions, he started his scooter and led us all the way straight to Amol’s parents home. Surprised to know we had come all the way from Bengaluru, we instantly bonded with Mr Sat Pal Sharma and Mrs Usha over stories of our sons. Amol’s father, a retired teacher was very involved with his sons education and when it was time for him to plan career goals, brilliant Amol listed IAS, Doctor and Army officer in that order. ‘I told him they were very good choices but that in my opinion as a teacher, the Army offers a life of honour with maximum service opportunity and minimum corruption. Amol immediately changed the order of his choices and that is how he became an army officer.’ At this stage, the elderly father breaks down as he recalls Amol’s first posting itself was to Kargil and as the War of 1999 against Pakistani deceit followed, even his first salary remained unspent. Young Capt Amol Kalia VrC heroically led his men to recapture what is today known as ‘Kalia hill’. Amol’s mother says ‘when people told us how bravely my son had fought, it surprised me. I never knew my slim young son had so much courage and strength. Amol made us very proud in our sorrow’.

 

We left Nangal saluting the braveheart and after a meal of terrific stuffed paratha’s at a roadside Dhaba, the drive led us to Pathankot and to the home of Lt Triveni Singh where his parents Capt J S Thakur and Pushpalatha greeted us.  Lt Triveni Singh AC had taken responsibility to lead the QRT when terrorists had attacked Jammu railway station in 2004, killing 7 people.  Lt Triveni ordered his troops to cordon off the station and in a swift action killed one terrorist and then followed the other who was firing from the overhead rail bridge. Knowing that the militant had lethal weapons and could kill over 300 passengers, he drew on amazing courage and selflessness to chase and kill the second second terrorist also, before making the supreme sacrifice.

I follow his beautiful mother into the kitchen and she made tea while talking about her son. ‘Triveni ko toh kaam karne ki zaroorat hi nahin thi. Itni property, Litchi ke bagiche….lekin bachpan se hi usko paison se nahin, logon se pyar tha. Shaadi ki poori tayyari ho chuki thi, menu decide ho raha tha jab hume khabar mili (Triveni knew he did not even need a job. With so much ancestral property and orchards of Litchi…..but right since childhood, he loved people, not money. The wedding preparations were all done and the menu was being decided when we got the news of his martyrdom). Heartbreak of his parents cannot be hidden behind stoic, dignified demeanor. At their gate we ask if they will pose for a photo with Akshay’s car.  Hamare bhi bacche ki car hai (It is our son’s car too), says his mother, putting a hand on Akshay’s car and adds ‘Kitne pyaare, nidar aur diler the hamare sher bacche (how sweet, fearless and brave our lion cubs were) eyes bright, voice breaking.

 

The next morning, driving from Pathankot was a treat to the eyes. Scenic beauty showcasing incredible India with trees of pine, pretty rivers and streams, and snow-capped Dhauladhar range of mountains, as we head towards Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. We were going to meet the family of Kargil’s first hero, a name every patriotic Indian knows, Capt Saurabh Kalia. I have written about him, Capt Amit Bharadwaj and Hav Rajvir Singh in an earlier blog post and in case you haven’t read it, here is the link:

https://wordpress.com/post/findingnewmeaning.blog/1689

Received by Saurabh’s brother Vaibhav and sister in law Niharika, we are soon joined by the braveheart’s mother, Vijaya didi. She gives me a hug and repeatedly says ‘mera bada man tha aap se milne ka…Vikas ko kai baar bola…acha hua aap log aaye (It was my desire to meet you…I told Vikas many times….glad you people have come)’. I feel both humbled and honoured that inspiring mother Vijaya Ji, who I have been wanting to meet for so long, was reciprocating my thoughts.  We chat like long lost family while Niharika, God bless her, insists we have lunch and gets busy cooking for us.

Vaibhav is very cheerful with a great sense of humour and talks about acceptance. That what happened with Saurabh and his men was extremely painful, but also meant for a greater cause. Vijaya didi narrates many stories about Saurabh. ‘Ek baar family mein koi gujar gaye the toh logon ko rote aur udaas dekh kar Saurabh bola ‘mummy, ye kya hai…death toh colorful honi chahiye. Jab Saurabh shaheed hua, toh logon ki bheed kayi kilometer lambi thi…chilla rahe the ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ aur ‘Sarabh amar rahe’ (Once when there was a death in the family, watching people sad and grieving, Saurabh had said, ‘what is this mummy…death should be colourful. When Saurabh’s body was brought home, people’s crowds were kilometers long and everyone was chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Saurabh is immortal’).I have a tough time dealing with the lump in my throat and the tears threatening to spill out of my eyes. That a 75-year-old father continues to fight for justice for the unspeakable torture and mutilation of his son’s body hurts, but also inspires others, to never give up on hope and effort.

When we told them about our road trip in Akshay’s car and how particular he used to be about cleaning and polishing his beloved car, Vaibhav and his young sons surprised and floored us by washing Akshay’s car themselves! ‘Its an honour to clean Akshay’s car’ Vaibhav insisted, as we all sat in the verandah and watched, sipping one more cup of tea made by Niharika, happy and touched to the very core of our being. This journey was indeed turning out to be much more than paying respects to our heroes. It was bringing families together like never before…. an emotional roller coaster that was as motivating as it was heartbreaking.

 

Sepoy Vikas Bharadwaj’s parents home is off the narrow winding road leading from Palampur to Bir, a small town in Kangra district of Himachal, known for its adventure activities like paragliding and trekking. We parked the car, walking about half a kilometer down a narrow path between rich green fields and a sweet little bridge over a stream, to reach a tiny, beautiful village named Pandol. Handsome 23-year-old Vikas was one among 18 soldiers of the Dogra regiment killed in action, when their military bus was attacked by terrorists of the United Liberation Front in June 2015 in Manipur. If you have seen ‘Uri’, the movie begins with that dastardly ambush and the fight back by our soldiers. To avenge the martyrdom of their brothers, the Indian army launched a counter attack along the Indo-Myanmar border, killing many terrorists from separatist groups who had claimed responsibility for that terror strike.

Vikas’s parents are young, their eyes pained, their body language dejected. His father starts the conversation with ‘aisa lagta hai ye duniya ache logon ke liye nahi hai (It seems the world is not meant for good people)’.  Vikas’s grandmother joins us, weeping over her beloved grandson’s loss and although we could not understand her words, she seemed to say ‘why am I still alive when he has been taken away’? ‘Dadi ki rotiyan bahut pasand thi use (He loved his grandmother’s roti’s)’ says his mother. ‘Ab kisi ko kuch banane ka man nahi karta (now no one feels like cooking)’. ‘Kheti bahut hai, par kaam karne ko dil nahi karta (the farms are big but I don’t feel like working anymore) adds Vikas’s father. We understand the pain, share our own feelings of loss and also of trying to take forward Akshay’s legacy of courage and sacrifice through Major Akshay Girish Memorial Trust, before saluting Vikas Bharadwaj and taking leave from his family.

 

How many of you know about Major Sudhir Walia? India’s ‘Rambo’ is a real hero, unlike the Hollywood star. Major Sudhir Walia from of 4 Jat Regiment fought in Sri Lanka as part of Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), opted for Para Special Forces, fought the  Kargil war, was selected ADC to Army Chief General Ved Malik, twice posted to Siachen glacier and known to have undertaken many covert operations to unearth terrorist hideouts in J&K.  Belonging to a military family of an Army veteran Subedar Major Rulia Ram Walia and Smt Rajeswari Devi, in 1997, Major Sudhir represented India in the United States for a specialized course, standing first among officers from 80 countries and also had the rare honour of speaking at the Pentagon. Did not waver when he took on terrorists in the jungles of Kupwara, killing as many as nine, before he fell.

What I cannot understand is why are there so few books and movies on India’s real heroes? Film makers have dished out movies on real-life underworld Dons, terrorists and even stupid drug addict film stars but we do not have a movie on inspirational heroes like Major Sudhir Walia, AC SM Bar! His once spirited mother is now unable to speak or move, after clots in the brain resulted in a stroke. Still fiery, she nods, clenches her fist and her eyes shine bright when I say ‘Aap toh Sher ki Ma hain (you are the mother of a lion).’ Our admiration for Sudhir’s elderly father’s cheerful countenance even after losing both sons, knows no bounds. As we noticed in most homes we visited on this trip, It is the martyred soldiers’ sister who has taken on the role of being there for her parents and taking care of their needs, while quietly proud of her soldier brother.

 

It was by chance that we were able to find the home of one more braveheart in Himachal. While having tea at a roadside shop, Vikas got talking to the gentleman. ‘Ek Shaheed ka ghar paas ke gaon mein bhi hai (one martyred soldiers’ home is also in a nearby village)’ said the shop owner. It was enough for us to take a detour off the main road to Dharamshala, finding Sepoy Ravikant Thakur’s home in a village near Gopalpur.

It is 10 years since their eldest son’s martyrdom but the pain of loss refuses to go away. The elderly father broke down 5 times, trying hard, but failing to hold back the tears that filled his eyes when he spoke about their brave son. Ravikant was married and daughter Samiksha, now in class 7, was just 2 years old, when her papa courageously fought terrorists in Kishtwar, before making the supreme sacrifice. ‘Dilli ek baar gaye the, bete ka Shaurya Chakra lene (We once traveled to Delhi to receive my son’s Shaurya Chakra)’ says his mother, pride in her sorrow. The young daughter in law is since remarried to their middle son and what we saw is a close-knit loving family where Samiksha and her mother are happy. Like her youngest uncle, Samiksha wants to join the Air Force. We get a very affectionate send off and a promise to visit us at Akshay’s home in Bengaluru.

 

It was a rare honour to pay our respects to ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ Kargil hero, ‘Shershah’ Capt Vikram Batra PVC, at the petrol pump run by his parents in Palampur. However, Capt Batra’s  parents were away in Delhi and we missed meeting them this time, returning with salutes in our heart and this photograph outside their home.

 

We did manage to visit and meet parents and toddler son of Major Shikhar Thapa after another walk up a path in a beautiful part of Palampur town. Little Suvir was just 2 months old when his soldier father was martyred and as he runs around playing with toy cars and entertaining all of us with his beautiful smile and baby chatter, we manage to catch up on some conversations with Major Shikhar’s parents Arvind Kumar and Poonam Thapa. Kya karein, jeena toh padega (what to do, we will have to live)’ says the young grandmother. Jab mein Suvir ko dekhti hoon toh aur bura lagta hai (when I look at Suvir, I feel even more sad). At least we parents got 30 years with Shikhar, his sister got 24 years, wife got 2 years, but this poor baby got just 2 months of his loving father. Shikhar’s wife Suvidha decided to follow in the footsteps of her brave husband and made it to Officers Training Academy (OTA) where she is currently a cadet. Soon she will wear stars of a Lieutenant, adding to responsibility on her young shoulders. It was so touching to know that when Suvidha was teaching in a school and also preparing for the tough SSB selection, her father in law not only encouraged her but would even make paratha’s and pack a lunch box for Suvidha to take, while her mother-in law took care of little Suvir.

 

After Akshay’s car had taken us to the homes of so many bravehearts, on day 7, it took us to its final destination, Akshay’s own unit family now stationed at its new location in Himachal Pradesh. To meet Akshay’s brother officers, soldiers and their families, many asking about Sangeeta, Naina, Neha & Pradish, was a happy-sad feeling in the heart.  Girish and I couldn’t help feeling how much Akshay has lost out on. He would have loved being in these hills, serving his Regiment, the Army and Country ‘with pride’.  Although their lives were cut short fighting Jaish in Nagrota, the unit homecoming for Akshay’s car somehow coincided with martyred Naik Chittaranjan’s birthday!

We were both amazed and baffled, trying to make sense of how this happened….365 days in a year and yet, unplanned, Akshay’s car goes to his unit on buddy Chittaranjan’s birthday?! Was it mere coincidence, or somehow ordained? Since trying to find answers to such questions is difficult, I will stick to saying we were very happy to hand over the keys to Akshay’s beloved red beauty to his Commanding Officer, so that all soldiers and families can use it. The touching handing over was followed by Gurudwara and Mandir functions with Bhajan, Kirtan and Ardas and an announcement of Naik Chittaranjan’s birth anniversary.

At the Unit Gurudwara, the Granthi in his Paath spoke glowing words in praise of  Akshay and Chittaranjan’s courage, valour and sacrifice in saving so many lives in Nagrota. Unhone regiment ki Aan, Baan and Shaan ke liye sab kuch kiya aur ye hum sab ke liye garv aur faqr ki baat hai (they both did everything to uphold the majesty, dignity and honour of the regiment and this is a matter of great pride for us all).’ I particularly liked his explanation of ‘Shaheed Itihas hota hai, aur Shahadat Gawah (Martyr writes history and martyrdom is the witness for history to be written)’ as he went on to praise Guru Gobind Singh’s teachings of ‘no sacrifice is too big’ for the nation. At the Mandir, it was beautiful to listen to and be part of a large group chanting the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ and singing ‘Om Jai Jagadish Hare’ during the Aarti. We gratefully and humbly accepted the Prasad and thanked everyone for making our visit to Akshay’s unit so very special.

 

This road trip and special homecoming for his car could never have happened without Akshay wanting it. I believe it was Akshay, guiding us through this most unique pilgrimage to homes of our martyred braveheart soldiers, before reuniting us with his unit family. After 2 days spent amidst people he loved and whose love and respect he has earned, we returned by taxi to our friends home in Chandigarh, just in time for the Langar(free community lunch) after a 20-day Paath (prayer). That Akshay’s last ‘darshan (holy sight)’ on earth was at the Golden Temple made this Langar prasad feel even more special. Meeting many very close IAF friends of Girish’s and mine, just before making it to our return flight home, had to be the perfect end to our exceptional pilgrimage.

That our road trip went through without a hitch despite minimum planning, that Akshay’s almost 10-year-old car drove like a dream right through those hundreds of kilometers without even a flat tyre, that none of us fell ill, that there were no road blocks or delay’s along the way, and that we entered more braveheart homes in one week than many can in a lifetime, means we were guided and supported to undertake this unique journey. That the long drive was picture postcard scenic and the weather absolutely perfect made it an even more amazing way to see #IncredibleIndia.

 

Once during the long drive, Vikas brought up the story of Abhimanyu and his tremendous contribution to the righteous war of ‘Dharma’ over ‘Adharma’. The story goes that Abhimanyu was the son of Moon-God (Chandra Dev), reincarnated on earth, just like many other avatars. But Lord Chandra made a pact that his son will only remain on earth for 16 years, as he could not bear to be separated from him longer than that. So, born as the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, Abhimanyu, the youngest of four sons of the Pandavas was everyone’s favorite.  In fact, Draupadi had more faith in Abhimanyu’s abilities than in her own sons. Each soldier son like Akshay is today’s Abhimanyu aunty’, said Vikas. ‘Like him, they had the qualities and the courage to enter and break the Chakravyuha of the enemy. Yes, they were killed in action, but their glory lives forever’. In saluting our soldier martyrs and paying our respects to many amazing families, our lives have become richer and more meaningful.

I look up at Akshay’s smiling images and his face seems to glow with a light brighter than ever. More than before, I am convinced that these stars up there are connecting and guiding us for a purpose…. maybe to spread their positivity and strength … to emphasize that a life of honour and respect is what we should strive for and that no sacrifice is too big in every war of good over evil.

On behalf of Akshay’s family, I thank each one of you for continuing to support us in our continuing journey. Do take care of yourself and of people around you in these challenging times of the viral spread of Covid-19. I promise to do all I can in #IndiafightsCorona, and will join you all on Sunday, 5 PM, to applaud our citizens who are working day and night to prevent, and save lives during this pandemic.

Best wishes, take care & God bless you all.

Jai Hind Ki Sena.

Jai Hind!

Meghna Girish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

111 thoughts on “FINDING NEW MEANING: PILGRIMAGE LIKE NEVER BEFORE

  1. Our heartfelt salute to the Braveheart Maj. Akshay G. and his courageous family.
    Not everyone get chance to make supreme sacrifice for their motherland.
    He made us so much proud as an Indian. We wish his family best of whole universe.
    We also salute you for inculcating national values to young minds, and helping other braveheart families through your unique endeavor.
    Jai Hind!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing our pride in Akshay. Yes, we are trying to take forward a legacy of service to the nation. Stay blessed. Jai Hind.

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    • Thank you for shared pride in Akshay and all our braveheart soldiers Prashant. Do hope you will read my new post too. God bless. Jai Hind.

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  2. I can’t tell you how many times I had lump in my throat and how many times I smiled reading this beautifully written post mam. So very proud of you and your family, thankyou so much. I am sure Maj. Akshay would be as proud of the family taking his legacy forward as we are of him. Please keep writing as civilians like us have very limited exposure to stories of a defence family. Wish to meet you in person someday as I live in Bangalore too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deeply appreciate your feedback Anusha. Thank you. Look forward to meeting once the pandemic is over. Do read my short write up on our 74th Independence Day. God bless your family. Greetings and Jai Hind.

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  3. I have no words to express my gratitude to you Meghna tai, and to all whose stories you have shared. Akshay and everyone else mentioned here are true heroes. I will always try to remember about them whenever I am beset by doubts and negativity – to remember that I only have a ‘right to act but not the fruits of my action’. Jai Hind!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As I teared up while going through most part of the article, I feel nothing but pride and utmost sense of valour that takes to raise a Braveheart, I have been encouraging everyone around me to join and be part of the exemplary forces… my efforts sort of felt not wasted when my brother declared that he wants to be an officer in forces and has started preparation of NDA, papa retired from Indian Navy and now works at a bank, but dil toh hamesha fauji rahega … Salute to you Maam for handling the pain of losing your raja beta, my heart reaches out to you

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    • Thank you for reaching out with all your wonderful, thoughtful messages Bobin. Very very happy to know your brother is preparing for NDA and dad is a proud veteran. Please convey our regards to your parents. As I always feel, we are all connected by Akshay and all our bravehearts. Maybe for a purpose…Best wishes and God bless.

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