Idols of Inspiration – we look for them in people who have reached the zenith of our profession or the game-changers and trend-setters of the society. I looked at the hashtag and waited for names to hit me. I have friends who selflessly work for the education of orphans; artists who go around the country changing lives with interventions, educationists who bring life to academics, activists who lose lives over social issues and basically people who just live their life as an example to others.
But my #madeofgreat is not one person.
The first name that will always pop up in my mind would be that of my Mother – Supriya Sudesh. You meet anyone who knows her and they’ll stop all conversation and mention the enigma that lady carries within her. She changes life through pure love and originality. Home is a responsibility that women were born with. You may give me a hundred revolutionary examples (many of whom I know, myself) but in return, I’ll give you the other million realities. The truth is we love it. We’re not complaining. I can’t wait to have a Home with my Family. But its a lot of running around, managing, adjusting and love, you know. But some people rise above just their careers and homes to make others feel loved. She doesn’t preach, she doesn’t interfere. She just listens. And sometimes, that makes the difference between sleeping depressed and knowing someone’s there. And her students absolutely adore her. Some of them are now working professionals and they never stop talking about her -sometimes as a second Mother and sometimes at The Teacher who taught them how to think for themselves. As a family and that too a fauji one we’ve faced many tides together and she has stood strong and gotten us through them all. The entire family once had bouts of malaria and she took care of us (note: my sister Rhea was a baby when she got malaria and that was a scary situation). She was young a mother then. And probably scared but she made it. Hell, that’s why we made it out, alive. And then times in Ladakh when she had to be there for my Dad. And then pretty much my entire life with various this-that’s ranging from hyperactivity as a baby to mood-shifts and stress, now. She’s handling it all. And doing a great job of it. She’s the root that keeps the Scientist Dad, Crazy-hippie-artsy-dreamy-philosopher daughter and the serious-nerdy-future-IAS daughter together. We love you Mom. You are truly #madeofgreat.
But this post is still beginning. And if I’ve kept you with me till now, then good, because only you deserve the rest.
It was early on a chilly morning in New Delhi with a fog situation so bad that I couldn’t see the road-divider,meters away from me. My sister was a tiny bundle of red sweaters and a blazer next to me while my long legs froze to their death. Guys get to wear full pants and we still have to wear skirts with these useless stalkings, thermocot pants don’t fit my socks, cha. Unfair! I thought to myself. We were waiting for our school bus to arrive. You’ll find at least a hundred APSDK (Armt Public School, Dhaula Kuan) buses in the morning, in every part of Delhi (especially the west) plying from one corner to another with little red-blue bodies (depending upon whether or not they’re wearing the blazer) within them jumping around like monkeys or sleeping to the sound of the morning radio (the irony). It was almost 6:30AM and something was wrong.
‘We’ve missed it,’ my sister announced, tugging at my sleeve. I felt ashamed because she was so tiny and cold and this was all probably my fault. I always felt responsible when it came to taking care of her. I’ve also taken it too far sometimes, getting into brawls in her name and sorts like that.
We probably had to get back home but the little one had an exam. Our parents were not in sight, our home was a long walk away (Dad dropped us in the bike before going for a jog) and I had no money to travel any way. I could see hope draining away from her face as the traffic built up. Assembly would have started. That’s when we saw a huge green Army Bus with DK 71 on it. Not ours but the destination was the same and we had our bus-passes hanging around our necks. So the tiny self that was me asked my sister to stay put as I ran towards the edge to stop the bus. It was moving pretty fast. And I, in my natural-self ways, ran along with the bus shouting.. ‘ROKO! ROKO! Arre bhaiya dekho!’ and I kept running to no avail. The few stupid kids who saw me from the window actually found it funny to see me run but said nothing of it to their conductor and driver. My sister was crying by the time I came back and all hell broke loose.
‘Beta, kaunsa route hai?’ someone said. It was a young man in a Jawaan’s uniform with the crew cut. We know Army when we see Army, isn’t it? And believe it or not, once a fauji forever a fauji. You see someone in the uniform and you know you belong under the same tree and you feel brotherhood. But then in that age, it was a bhaiya we could trust.
‘Bhaiya, DK 75,’ I replied. I was probably sobbing, too.
‘Chalo phir, pakadwaate hai bus aapka,’ he said, ‘Chalte rehna uss taraf pe, hum aage se bus rukwaate hai. Jaldi theeke?’
He asked us to keep walking in the direction of the bus that left us and he’d go ahead of us to stop it. We agreed because, why not? The neighborhood was familiar. In the worst case scenario : we’d walk up to some office or CSD and make a call. He quickly got onto his cycle and broke into a freak-wave speed. We walked as fast as we could with bottles and bags dangling around our necks and shoulders. I had Rhea’s tiny hand, tightly clasped in mine. She kept up, occasionally wiping her leaky nose with the sleeve of her blazer. We walked a couple of minutes and I was probably hoping I had not landed my unsuspecting sister into another one of my menaces.
The flyover came. Far from home is what it spelled to me.
‘Are chotu!’ came a voice. It was the Jawaan. He was standing a little ahead of us with the conductor and the bus. We went running towards it. With one deft move they lifted my sister and all her paraphernalia into the bus and helped me, too. I just had enough time to look out of my window and shout , ‘Thank you, bhaiya!’
Now, this was not a gallant war-story of an Army Soldier – the ones you come across aplenty. This was the story of a man who would run behind buses to make little kids who belonged to his comrade – catch their morning school bus. He is the same man who worked through nail, blood, sand, mountains and sweat to become a fauji. Who will give his life at a moment’s notice of ambush. Who has a family waiting for him, praying every time he left for TD’s that he returned safely, back to them.
But their lives are on the line, as we speak. And they signed up for it in full conscience. I’ve heard people reprimand others saying people join the forces just because they couldn’t get any other job. How I pity those foolhardy people. To get into the Defense is one of the toughest things ever. But even beyond that is the commitment for life. And its a bondage that the rest of his family gets into, as well.
I recently read a post by an officer’s wife who was sharing the story of a couple from their previous unit in Dehra- the officer and his wife, Surbhi were as charming and in-love as any newly wed couple is. There were stories and anecdotes of how perfect they’re for each other with pictures of them. Maj. Dhruv was an avid photographer, Bullet-enthusiast and biker (goes without saying :with the Bullet) and a man with fine artillery skills. His wife, Surbhi is a simple woman with a flare for life that shines through her smile. The post then went on to announce the grim reality : the passing away of Maj Dhruv on the 22nd of Septemper (2015) due to a stray shrapnel that hit him in a firing drill in Pokhran.
The writer said she didn’t know how she’d face the young wife. She was still recounting the lovely moments of affection between the newlyweds who are now parents of a months-old baby. When she finally did meet Surbhi, she saw a child who was broken.
‘Woh chala gaya‘ is all Surbhi said.
Those three words, if you can read into them, show you the magnitude of her loss. He was a part of her. A soulmate. This was not a loss. This was her everything. Her hopes, her love, her dream, the reason she woke up every morning just an hour early so she could surprise him with a favorite breakfast, her prayer, her husband. The Father of her child. He left them without his own will. He left them without wanting to. He left them without a goodbye. He left without celebrating his baby’s first year.
I don’t even know them but I can feel the pain.
In Bareilly, about eight years ago, I’d lived through a similar story. Only I knew them firsthand and that made it all the more unbearable. They were, too, a new couple with a baby in the house. We’d see them in parties and functions – as happy as any family could be. We’d play with the baby and cycle up to their house in the evenings to go see the kid again. My friend Prajakta and I would do that for a long time before the tragedy.
One day,Dad called late in the night from office. The entire unit was in there waiting for a signal. The Commanding officer’s chopper ( three members in it : a General, himself and a co-pilot) had stopped pinging back around two hours of reaching Joshimath in the morning.
The confirmed news came late but came crashing : We had lost them.
The rest is too hard for me to share but the crux of it will tell you what I’m trying to say. These people who’s prayers for their husbands, sons, brother, father’s safe return are unanswered, are the people who are #madeofgreat.
They know the risks, they know the responsibility and yet they embrace the nomadic Fauji life with their Fauji. They support them – on all fronts. The man’s might comes from the satisfaction that his family is taken care of. They put their future, invest their life in His career. And do so with love. Implicit faith and love.
And when such mishaps take place and they lose the one man that made their world- they are left without roots, without shelter. Their tiny home is broken.
But it doesn’t stop them. They keep the memory of the beloved departed alive. They stand up, then walk, they bring themselves back, they fight harder, stronger – to be more than what they can. To achieve more for themselves and the spirit of their loved one. They become the father and the mother, fill in every gap left. These women, these parents, these kids, these families are #madeofgreat
Despite their loss, they don’t think twice before allowing their kids to join the forces, or become a Fauji’s beloved despite losing their Dad to the profession. Their loss doesn’t deter them from supporting the others. Protecting this nation, forevermore. These people are the Great ones. The families of he Faujis are the ones the nation bows to.
To pick up yourself up when things fall apart and stay strong – move on- keeping their memory alive and never back down. Live their spirit in your life. That is what I’ve learnt from all these women and family members of the Fallen Heroes. The Martyrs. They don’t give up on life because they have no one to blame. They move ahead, stronger, doing their sons-husbands-brothers-friends proud.
– A Fellow Fauji.
This post was written in association with IndiBlogger and TATA Motors . Do check out : http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/ to know more about the #madeofgreat campaign with Messi as their ambassador. And what do you think about it? Comment below and chances are, you may just win something.