Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Kargil Vijay Divas - 2018

The most awaited time came into existence on June 30 2018, at banglore. I walked into the house of Adrija Sen, Co-Founder of Desh. I was meeting every one of them personally that day despite being friends in the virtual world for about 3 to 4 years. Devraj Uncle, Father of Capt. Tushar Mahajn(9 Para) was already there. He greeted me with a smile. Vikas Manhas, the Guiding Light of Team Desh was also there and we greeted with a hug, as if we were knowing each other for ages.
Capt.Naveen Nagappa who was a Kargil war veteran himself, arrived with a smile. I had read a lot about Capt. Naveen and the way how he had been meeting many martyrs in his recent days, the compassion he was sharing with his copatriots moved me. Meeting every one of the real heroes, be it an army man or the brave family members of the bravest, gave me chills deep down to my spine. When I met Sangeetha, Wife of Major Akshay Girish, I had a feel of guilt and pain, the pain of seeing a girl of my age, suffering an irreparable loss and the guilt, "What did we as citizens or the government as a Nation do the brave Major? How was the twin child of The Girishs recognized?"
The event started with cutting cake, Naina AkshaySangeetha, D/O of Major Akshay & Sangeetha Akshay, Capt Naveen Nagappa, Devraj Uncle, Aparajitha and others did the honors, cutting the cake and sharing happiness of the 19th Kargil Vijay Diwas celebrations.
Mrs. Charulatha Acharya fondly known as Charu akka, joined all of us through the video call. Her brief conversation with all of us made us glad and joyful. Mrs.Anasuya, CoFounder of Desh started telling how Team Desh was started. Few years ago, Vikas(a stranger then) called Anasuya in her father's mobile to connect and the strangers spoke for one hour about Indian Army and their bravery and then on started the journey of Desh. When the three of them got connected with Mrs.Aacharya, she offered her helping hand to approach the martyrs' family members as she herself was one inorder to gain the trust of them. And now, Team Desh has close to 8000 members and probably the only group where Patriotism towards Motherland is not only discussed but implemented in real lives.
I was asked to give a brief about Kargil War. And, with the heroes and the bravests next to me, I did stammer to give a gist of it, as the entire event was live telecast-ed. Post which, Deepak Surana, the young author of the book, "THE SHERSHAH OF KARGIL-CAPTAIN VIKRAM BATRA" spoke of how the soldiers captured Point 4875 where Capt. Vikram Batra was martyred. The way young little boy explained, brought tears in almost every one's eyes. 
Desh - Kargil Meet - 2018.

The most awaited moment came, when the hero himself, Capt. Naveen Nagappa, spoke about his experiences in Kargil. We told him if it was painful to talk, not to talk. He started sharing his stories. During the fight, he saw the enemies' mortal remains being shattered during the fight. He realized that part of the body belonged to a corpse lying near by. His first thought was why should he touch it, why cant he kick the flesh morsel to the corpse. His morale dint allow him. He further thought to push it with the riffle he had in hands. But he ended up picking the flesh morsel putting it to the right corpse, purely because his moral knowledge did not allow him to disrespect any corpse. He also shared that, when the enemy's army disowned few soldiers, it was Indian Army who cremated the soldiers with due respects. All these days, I thought an army man as a synonym for unmatched bravery and grit. But, Capt. Naveen Nagappa proved to all of us through his every experience that Indian soldier is a remarkable human being who is spiritually evolved, ethically right, morally perfect, mentally stoic and physically hardy and skilled. Many wars and battles are won by them because of their moral perfection and strong determination with perfect discipline. 
Captain Tushar Mahajan's father Shri.Devraj , Major Akshay Girish's mother Mrs Megna Girish, Col. Jojan Thomas' Wife Beena Thomas, Group Captain Ashwini Mandukot and his mother, Mrs Archana Rajput wife of Colonel Jaideep Singh Salaria, Mrs. Shakuntala Bhandarkar wife of Colonel Ajit Bhandarka and Mother of Navy officer Akshay Bhandarkar, spoke about their experiences and inturn their kin's drive to join Indian Army and Defence forces. 
An inspiring, priding pain meet ended with amazing dinner cooked by various people with love!
After the end of two hours, I came to yet another realization. It is indeed very very easy for people like you and me who live in the freedom given to us by brave soldiers to talk about battles and wars and intolerance.But the real pain of a soldier who fought in the battles, some of them who made supreme sacrifices, who lost their body parts, and those families who opened the doors to the coffins that had their loved ones, wrapped in the Tri Color Flag, the daughters and sons who grew up fatherless, the brave ladies who brought up every one in the family with bravery and guts... No we do not know any of these pains. No, we don't even know what is happening in the border or what happened during these wars. No, we don't care about the real heroes who are letting us live by dying a horrible death in the hands of enemies.
We must grow up to be a sensible human being and a responsible citizen to honor the supreme sacrifices of many many families out there.  Let us respect the sacrifice and try to teach our children their stories of bravery. Let us try to put the welfare of Nation first. Let us be the change that we want to see.
PS, The Flag that we are holding is a memorable Pride in Pain memoir, in which a hero came wrapped to his home. When I touched the flag, it was a perfect moment where tears welled in my eyes and I felt the pride of being An Indian. JAIHIND.

Friday, June 29, 2018

A Bold Move

Rebecca was dusting the wall hangings. Her tired eyes showed the lack of sleep. Her headache was so severe. Mithran was helping her in piling up the magazines and books from the shelf. He touched every book with so much love and pain. Rebecca called out to Mithran. “Mithran, can I have a cup of strong coffee, please?”  
“Why don’t you take some rest, Rebecca?” Mithran asked her concernedly.
It is fine, da. I have to finish by tonight. The Packers and Movers will be here by 9.00 AM sharp. Can you please get me a cup of coffee, please?” Rebecca looked determined to finish the packing that night despite her tiredness. 
“Do you want to leave this place, Rebecca?” Mithran could not bear the sight of Rebecca relocating to the village.
“Yes, Mithran. I have to go to be with Arjun’s parents.” Rebecca was confident. 
She looked around the beautifully decorated room. There was a TV in the south-east corner of the room. The TV stand had many photos. Every photograph explained the special moment Rebecca and Arjun have had, all these days. The first was a group photo. A photo, taken during their college cultural event. Arjun won first prize in singing and Rebecca won first place in poetry. They were standing next to each other along with the office bearers of the cultural association and their professors. Arjun’s innocent smile attracted her even now. In the next picture, Arjun and Rebecca were among the office bearers. Arjun was looking at Rebecca from the left end. He was trying to do funny faces to her. The photograph brought back all those beautiful memories. The other was their wedding photograph. Rebecca was sitting on the royal chair with Arjun standing behind her and engulfing her in his arms. Their eyes twinkled with joy. They were smiling. They both were in love, deep love. Rebecca took the photo frames one by one. She dusted them and placed them in the box. 
Thud. A tiny cute little polar bear fell from behind. The fur doll was in dirty white colour indicating it has been hidden behind the frame for ages. Rebecca starched out to get the little card too. Arjun had written for her. It was dated ten years ago. Rather, dated seven months after their wedding. She remembered the day. She recalled every incident and every word that her Ajju said to her.
It was their first visit to the doctor. She was expecting to be pregnant. They went to the doctor happily. But, the doctor’s reports stated some hormonal imbalances and declared she was not pregnant. On their way back, they went to Hotel Ashoka. They had a romantic candlelight dinner. After dinner, Arjun took Rebecca’s hands and said, “It too early to think about the third one. Two is romantic and three is a crowd.” Arjun winked. Rebecca felt guilty. She apologized for giving a ‘fake joy’ to Arjun. Arjun said, “Rebs, we took a marriage vows to stand by each other during tough and happy times and at all times. Let s face everything together. As long as you love me and we are together, I will be strong and brave.” He finished with a kiss on her forehead. His fingers brushed her tears away. “Promise me, you shall never cry again. Because, I will be around you till eternity.” Arjun said. 
She opened the small card that had a torn tag. It should have been tagged to the polar bear. His beautiful cursive handwriting read,
Hey Rebs, 
I know you are expecting. Thanks for promoting me as a father. We are pregnant. I will give you all strength to face this beautiful phase of womanhood. Yes, WE are pregnant. You have always been asking for panda fur doll. Before the little one comes to compete with you, enjoy your time with this doll.
Lots of Love,
PS, I guess this is the panda or the polar bear that you longed to have for.
Rebecca was motionless for a minute. She stayed still and shell shocked. ‘He has got it before going to the doctor. But never gave me. He did not want to hurt me.' Rebecca thought to herself.
Mithran stood there with the coffee cup. Rebecca drank coffee and let out a sigh. Mithran looked at his sister battling with her emotions. She smiled at him, faintly. 
“I will go and buy us some dinner. In the meantime, will you take some rest?”, Mithran asked.
“Yes, you can go. But, I won't take rest. I will finish packing Ajju’s dresses in this suitcase.”, Rebecca told him.
If I say that I will come to help, you won’t pay heed to. So,do it. But do it slowly. Consider your health. I will be back soon.” Mithran left through the hallway to the entrance. In few minutes, Rebecca heard the ignition of the bike. She smiled and stood up, walking to the bedroom. 
There were two cupboards. One had his dress and the other hers. She packed all hers, leaving just a couple of dresses for the upcoming travel. When she opened his cupboard, she smelt him. His strong Eau de Cologne smelled dresses reminded him to her. As she folded every dress of his, she visualized him in each dress and remembered how he had loved her with all his heart. 
Mithran came with food packets. He made her eat until the last morsel of food left in the food packet. As they finished a quiet dinner, Mithran cleaned the place and made the bed for his sister. 
“Rebecca . . . “Mithran called out. Rebecca looked at Mithran. His eyes were red. He was crying. “Rebecca, how would you be living with out Arjun?”, Mithran broke down. He sniffled and tried to control himself.
“Arjun was never prepared to leave me alone. Neither was I prepared to battle the strife all alone. He taught me to be brave and made me to listen to him every time, when I felt low. He never made me cry. So, I forgot now, what tears signify. He will never let me feel alone.” Rebecca touched her growing belly. Her shirt fell in folds around the bump in her belly. “He will never let me feel alone”, she said again. 
Mithran helped her to get up and walked her to the bedroom. When she lied down, he kissed her forehead. “Not only HIM, I will also never let my baby sister feel alone. Good night.” As he said, he switched on the fan and helped her to pull her comforter. He smiled painfully and walked away. 
In the dark loneliness of the night, the tired, exhausted brave lady, gently crawled up to the pillow next to her and kissed it. “Good night, Ajju.” She whispered. She held the fur doll in her hand and slept. 
Mrs. Salma Shafeeq Ghori, W/O Major Shafeeq Khan Ghori
Courtesy:Senthil Kumar Credits: Being You

 The next day morning, the packers and movers came home. Mithran was overseeing the men’s work. She walked around the empty house. She realized, ten years ago, when she moved in with her Ajju, this was how the house looked. The house was empty but filled with lots of memories with which she was supposed live her life time. She saw her Ajju in every corner of the house. 
“They are ready to move, Rebecca”, Mithran interrupted her thoughts. 
“Okay, I will be out in a minute.” Rebecca said as she gazed the empty house for one last time. She silently prayed for the couple who would move in after she left. and blessed them, silently. She went to pick up her bag. Next to it was a red velvet box which had a silver disc with five-pointed heraldic star embossed on the observe with circular centre-piece bearing the gilded National of India in the centre. The Mahavir Chakra was awarded to Major Arjun Sharma, posthumously for his exemplary brave and selfless deed in protecting the nation from the terrorists. Major Arjun Sharma’s supreme sacrifice made him more than being her Ajju. He was the nation’s child. He was god and saviour of the people whose lives he saved. He was long gone. But, he was a man of honour. He was a man of valour. He was a man of pride in pain. Her husband, her Ajju, her world had become a model Army Officer to the Nation. And this very thought comforted her. The growing child in her solaced her. She held the red velvet box close to her chest and walked outside.
As she locked the door, the name board, Maj.Arjun Sharma caught her attention. As she slid her fingers through the encarved letters, her eyes shed the tears which she had been hold up for the past ten years. She started her journey with the strong will and unaltered love, towards Major.Arjun Sharma’s native, where his parents resided.

Dedicated to Major Mukund Varadarajan & Mrs Indu Mukund, Major Padmapani Acharya& Mrs. CharulathaAcharya and many many more brave women out there who have sacrificed their love for peace!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Memoies On (the) line . . . !

Kailash always believed that life is the greatest gift we are bestowed with and time – the greatest of the greatest gift that we can gift each other. Generally, for any events, be it big or small, he would make sure that he spent time with family and loved ones. When I met my friend who eventually was his college senior too, I was glad to know more about the other side of him – the naughty, the responsible and the crazier side of him. He was gentle to his friends. He had fun and made everyone around him, smile. He was caring to mostly all of them. His senior told, “Kailash ensured that I ate properly even when I am sick.”
 It’s happiness in remembering him the way he would have wanted everyone to remember. It is like holding on to the memories and the love that he shared with everyone. Because of the love that he shared with everyone around him so personally, grieving for him came as an optional while celebrating his life became a mandate. 

For siblings like us who never shared stuffs tagging each other, online in any media or any whatsapp, I feel it to be very odd to hear stories or see posts of brothers and sisters. However, I was sad about it. For long time I was even not in his friends’ list of face book or orkut. But, in reality, we fought crazily with each other and yet we loved each other unconditionally. It reminded me of the strong bond that we shared. I kept wishing him on his birthdays, when he passed and all other events, though he dint like it. He would be like, "When I am just a phone call away, why do you want to tell the whole world your wishes but not me?" I stopped at one point not knowing that he would not be physically around to read it and call me to scold!
The irony is, I began to write memoirs, only two years later, coz even then I am not sure if I would be able to write anything about him other than monotonous pain of missing him. But, I was wrong then.
It has been a year since
I started celebrating his life publicly,
I stared to tell tales about him to people who knew or not him,
I realized that the inevitable pain can be transformed into bliss by sharing joyous moments,
I realized that he shall be always the guiding force to strive through the strife!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The power of brother. . .

It has been three years since I last saw and spoke to Kailash. The day, or in fact the last week of his, on this earth is etched as an ediagraphic memory deep in my heart and brain. On the tenth of April 2015, I called him to come home. He denied it owing to some hospital duty that weekend. Further, he promised to come on the 14th of April - The New Year's Day, The birthday of my Mother, The Day of divine worship Vishu, the day of him to start his prayers and fasting for Sabari Mala. His work commitments never allowed him to join me for all these celebrations during the second weekend and third week of April.

 But on 16 of April, when I boarded my bus to be back to Chennai, I called him. His last minutes on earth and his last conversation with me is, " A girl gets complete when she is married off and earns a good name at the in-laws. Girls are like the paddy crop: they are like the 'Naththu' at the parents home and at right time and age, like how the Nathu(young paddy crop) is planted in the field to yield golden grains, the girls should be married off to attain the bliss of womanhood." These words convinced me to say okay for a wedding.

His one and only criteria for my husband to be was the boy should respect me and treat me with dignity, no matter what.He continued his advice, " Trust the family. If the family has moral values, the boy will be the best of all. In any case, never let go of your respect and become a victim of comparison. Stand with gentle valor guarded by love. In case of any problem, give me a call and say that you want to meet me. I PROMISE I WILL BE NEXT TO YOU IN THE MINIMUM POSSIBLE TIME in whichever corner of the world you are. Until then, try to be patient and avoid confrontations.I will never let you face anything alone." 
Dr.Raj Kailash Mohan - Painted by Poongavanam Arts
He won. He won on that very same day, same minute in gaining my confidence, in gaining my acceptance to a wedding which my parents could not. He made me realize the essence of life, morale and womanhood. Till date, I do not realize how could a young kiddo talk word with so much meaning. His promise and his words of wisdom is the only strength that I rely upon. It is truly difficult for me to follow his words to a tee. 

There’s a tendency for people to make his death the pinnacle of dying. I dunno how he went. I dunno if he was afraid to leave the three of us alone. I dunno if he underwent a lot of pain. But I know for sure, He was so loved, He had a hearty conversation with all the three of us,  minutes before he left. But none of these is considered. Many people, treated by him, are revived back to life. Why can't he be? Why did he leave so early? What did he feel when he breathed his last? Did he know that was the last breath he took? There are many unanswered questions in all our hearts. But, lest we convinced that he is definitely that guardian angel from up above the sky, longing to look at our smiles. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Prayers' Power . . !

A few years back, Kailash went to Sabari Mala praying for my good health. There were a grand feast and pooja for all the swamis at our place. He ordered a full stomach filling food. About 100 people or so visited our home, attended the pooja and blessed us all. We were extremely glad. His trip to see Ayyappan was also an eventful and successful one. He came with his usual surprise gifts.

Kailash on his first birthday

That night, I was teasing him and scolding him the long pending scoldings. It is a practice that one who wears the garland and fasts for the pilgrimage, should not be scolded. For his forty-five days plus the three days journey, altogether of forty-eight days of non - scolding him, I was in a full form to tease him. I asked him, what he prayed for. He replied, " I prayed for a life one day longer than yours." I was taken aback by this reply of his. I did not understand why he said so. I mistook him, slept angrily that night. A few days later, when I fought with mom like the usual happenings of those days (even now) and was in solitude in my room, he came and he sat next to me and said, " You are very naive. You need me around for every bit of your life, to tease, to support, to play with, to rely upon. So, I won't leave until you leave this world. That is a promise." I remember pushing him aside angrily and he smiled, patting me back saying, "Loosu Gaana, come let's play Monopoly." After a decade, I keep remembering his promise, every day. I held on to the anger that he did not fulfill his promise. I memorialized certain events and kept the pain of missing him, so close to me.

But, I have grown to make peace with the fact that his physique is the absent one in the contemporary world. I began holding on to the beautiful memories of him tightly that in his absence, the memories soothe me. I began to joyfully accredit that I have had the most beautiful brother in the world. I have begun to accept the fact that his death can not lessen the love that he had for me nor I had for him. I have begun to loosen the grip on the pain but tighten the grip on the joy of thinking about him. For, I am sure, in few earth years, I will be with him, hugging him tightly and teasing him like the usual....

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Unbroken Promises made . . . .

The Month January of every year led to new beginnings, new thoughts and newer attitude. We loved to celebrate January. There is a new year day, Pongal day, Kanupidi, Republic day and what not… Kanupidi is a function that the Indian – Bhramin ladies in the house celebrate for the prosperity of their brothers. Kanupidi day falls on the next day of Pongal. Every home, that has a brother, celebrated Kanupidi. Ours too! We never missed a year. Even when our granddad passes away, the ladies of the home thought we must keep kanupidi or atleast pray for our brothers’ peace and prosperity.
I was never an early bird, you know. Getting up early in the morning seems like a really bad thing to me. Especially when I began going to college. Kailash used to wake me up in the mornings, especially for on these days, telling me to memorize the ‘rhymes’ that we sing during the occasion. It used to be funny. He would do most of the things on behalf of me – chopping sugarcane to pieces, mixing rice, bring and arranging leaves for the morsel of food to be kept, every tiniest of the tiny things was taken care by him. Mom used to be so proud of her son, who helps her in the kitchen chores. And, after the event – for which he ‘helped most’, I would get a present from him in return. It is beautiful, isn’t it?
I used to make promises to him – ‘I will get you this. I will get you that. I will take you outside to this place.’ So on and so forth. But, when I remember, with all pain and tears welling up, his promises were loaded with infinite love. His promises were not compromising. His promises were futuristic and his promises were realistic. His last words to me, a few hours before the horrible moment were, “Stay calm. Never be afraid of the new people. They aint gonna be new anymore. All of them are your family. You are their family. In any worse situations, remember, stay calm. It will be difficult. Yet stay calm. Call me to tell , ‘you wanna see me’ and I shall be before you in the least possible time. But, until then, stay calm during adverse times.” I, a young lady of 25, was a career oriented, goal driven dumbass who never foresaw anything beyond lab and research. When talking of wedding, my first thought was Fear. I did not even share the fear with my parents. Neither did they take the initiative to clear my fear for they thought, I would eventually figure out and be a good girl. But what surprised me was, kailash talking to me about all this. His promise made me say yes to a wedding. Deep down my heart, I am sure, he is still keeping up his promise to me, in some form or the other and it is me who is failing to realize it.
I wanted to go back to those times of promises being made. I wanted to change my promises. "I will be there for you in times of adversity. I would be there to hold your back. I would be there to snatch you away from the clutches of death angel..." I wanted to... But, I realized, I have new promises to be made to newer people of my life. I realize, I must strive hard to keep up those promises. I began making promises, 'Our lives are finite. But, my love and care for you shall stay for you till eternity. Until then, I shall strive to be honest and transparent in the relationship that we share. I shall be there when and if needed and possible.." 
Making New Promises that are more meaningful and more realistic......

PS; To pacify my own mind, I requested if I can cook food for a kid at my work place, He  generously accepted the offer.I owe the kiddo some prayer. 

Friday, January 05, 2018

The Power of Positivity

And, it is the resolution week of the year! Before beginning, let me wish you all a healthy, peaceful 2018 ahead. Let us strive hard to understand each other’s differences and maintain a less – strained relationship, forego jealousy and hatred and escalate the humanity within us to make the world and days to come a great one!

Most of us, brood over the insults of past and would complain/keep complaining the bad things that have happened to us. But this year, for me, began in a different way. I met a game changer woman at my workplace who by her actions, taught me to think differently.

On the first working day of 2018, as we quenched our screaming tummy with yummy food and warmed up our fingers with a cup of hot cocoa, we started talking about ‘women at workplace’. Trust me, it was not at all a gossip. But, it was about the different challenges that most of the women face, differently, in the workplace and how should those challenges be overcome.

We were sharing our challenges that we were then facing: having an 18 month old baby at home who was close to being sick, being robbed in a foreign land, searching for a new career opportunity with a ViSa sponsored, writing a couple of research articles, and the list went on and on for every one of us, personally and professionally. When I was feeling low about my ‘relocation’ process and letting go of a promising career (which I always loved to take up) that I would have had, if I had stayed here, I understood, I am not alone!

Having an 18 month old baby girl at home, my colleague travels to her workplace, completes her job responsibility and gets back home to be a beautiful mother in her 40’s and yet, she is so positive and inspiring. “You are worthy of more than what you can comprehend,” she says. “Show your denial, if it is reasonable, with a smile. Being bold is beautiful definitely takes a lot of bravery,” she smiled. I was astonished by the positivity she carried with her and the aspirations she was thrusting upon all of us. I thought, at that moment, ‘when a multi-challenge – facing – women like her can smile so gleefully, why not me?’ That was her impact on me. That was when I realized, being bold with a smile, matters!

She was the one who suggested #365gratefuldays, which I am currently posting on my social media feed. The concept is, to be grateful for the small things around us, spreading cheer and positive vibes. Down the lane, when we look back, we shall have umpteen number of things to be glad for.

When I thought of whatever I ‘complain’ about, they are actually challenges in disguise and everyone has their own shares, fairly measured and bestowed upon them to face. Well, I am no mother of an infant and a teen yet but will definitely be one, in times to come. And, at that time of my life, I will be having added responsibilities to what all I have now. I can’t escape from those responsibilities. When I pondered over, again and again, the thirty /forty minutes of conversation with her, all I understood was these: a) When we start counting the blessings that are in small forms as well, we will stop complaining the negativity. b) It is okay to say NO for an answer provided you are reasonable and honest to your own self. c) Fight for injustice but know what you are fighting for. Not to forget, fight with a smile and not with a curse, which most of us do not do (including me).

Let us stop arguing over the ‘last seen status’, ‘who is great’, ‘who is better’ and all those profanely insane questions and start living a life of substance, knowing our worth, acknowledging the small happiness, spreading positivity and embracing humanity!


Again, Happy 2018!

Lots of Love,
Riya ©

Ps: Thanks Semanti !