It was early in the morning ,there was a soft knock on the door ,
she went and opened the door ,she stood there stunned ,
Brigadier Khanna her husbands best friend !
for some time nothing registered .and then it all flooded back ,
memories of twenty long years !
her eyes welled up in tears ,
she realized she should have called him inside ,
he too knew ,she was shocked seeing him after all these years
he was quiet and sad .
his dear friend Major Bashyam,they were together for long ,trained together , fought together and now he was alone in the army
he was a senior officer now
All these years he had dreaded this moment to go and meet his dear friends widow ,
to tell her what happened on that day that fateful day in the remote Tawang valley in Arunachal Pradesh in the north east corner of India
but he had to tell ,he could not put it off forever .
please come inside Brigadier ,Iam sorry ,it was a shock to see you after all these years
can I get you some tea ?
thats fine he said
he braced himself ,he needed all the time he could get before he could tell all
she brought him the tea
he asked about her daughters they would both have grown up a lot
the elder one was just two years when it happened and younger one year ,now both above twenty
shes joined medical college in Chennai
yes I heard so
he always wanted his daughter to be a doctor ,good
younger daughter is in college Khannaji
he would be happy
and how are you Babhi ?
Iam going on ,
God has been kind to me
My family ,his family ,we all stuck together and we fought it bravely our loss
but for his being not there and not knowing what really happened we managed
but the truth has always evaded us
we ache to know what happened on that fateful day when he left us
you knew ?
yes I knew all along but I could never face you
she was just twenty three then married just three years back and with two small children
he had gone back to the front just a month back to distant Arunachal pradesh and then the war broke out
China invaded India
those days it was all Indi china bhai bhai ,both ancient civilizations were thought to be good friends
Pandit Nehru the Prime minister of India was at his height of popularity
He believed he was the statesman the world was looking upto
China his dear China with those great socialist ideals,he was left oriented .
what a great country with as hoary a history as his own India !
Panditiji had a lofty vision ,he admired socialistic countries
He was lost in his dream of utopia
There were whispers of China planning a campaign against India surreptitiously ,their army was being strengthened and closing in near the north east borders but none believed that the Chinese would invade India
The defense minister Krishna Menon never heeded to warnings from the Indian army
senior officers were getting intelligence reports from the borders of an imminent attack
India was ill prepared for any war specially in the hills of Arunachal pradesh
they lacked good supplies winter clothes weapons and the morale of the soldiers were low as it was a hardy life with few comforts ,
There were warnings from the army that China was angry at India for its Tibetan adventure
The Dalai lama was living in India protected by the Indian government and the Chinese never forgave India for this slight .
And then one fine day the hills of Tawang woke up to a cold morning
The marching Chinese army highly trained and strong swept in ,the forces of defense were few and far between ,unorganized and scattered away at the onslaught ,
the invasion was swift and furious the Chinese advanced quickly with their well trained and equipped soldiers
it was child's play for them to drive in an unprepared poorly equipped army ,
it was no fault of the Indian army as they fought bravely against all the odds
it was a failure of the people who governed the country who played fiddle while Rome burnt and before India could bolster its strengthen and gather their forces the enemy had made great strides into the country !
many perished many retreated
it was India's shame
she used to pray all the time those days
he was in the very place the war was on as a major in The ninth Punjab Regiment
he wrote to her once during the turmoil from the front
he was safe and would come back
his dream to become a doctor would be fulfilled by his daughters he wrote then !
she never felt the danger,she was sure he would be back !
The days flew by and finally the Chinese stopped their onslaught after giving a bad lesson to India
they started going back
It was then that she heard there was news of her husband missing in action !
he just disappeared
was he wounded or captured as a prisoner of war ?
did he die?
no one knew !
it was torture not to know !
After many days a sad letter from the prime minister himself was received by her
We regret to inform the missing of your husband in the battlefield ,presumed dead in action
how cruel !
a few matter of fact words had just snuffed our her future her life her love and her hopes
the death knell for her
that day would be marked as terrible forever in her life always
she felt all alone though her family and his family were there to comfort her
but days went by and they never got any news nor his the body
India slowly limped back from its shame
Panditji died a broken man sad and sick
India moved on
The widow was strong ,she knew she had to be strong for her poor children ,she knew she had to study more become independent ,she could ill afford to brood over her loss ,it was her pay back to her husband who had loved their family but loved the nation more and gave himself for his country
Do we Indians ever think of these great men and women of our great army who are fearless ?
,filled with love and pride for the country ,willing to sacrifice all for their nation !
how much can we do to pay our gratitude to these heroes our warriors our protectors !
she was bent on studying and she left her elder daughter with his parents younger one with her parents and joined Queen Marys college in Chennai to do her further studies ,
went on to do an MSC in nutrition and became a qualified dieticin and served in many medical colleges in the state .
She rose up her career ,was in social activities and led a busy fruitful life
Her children later stayed with their uncles and then joined a convent in chennai and still later into a classy boarding school in a hill station .
with time her elder daughter got into medical college and younger one into college for completing her Pg and Bed
And now after so many years his friend has come
after twenty long years
what was he going to tell her ?
a faint hope in her glimmered
was he somewhere ?
I dont mind not seeing him ever but I want him alive somewhere
please my God
it was not to be
The brigadier softly whispered
it was almost the end of the war when it happened
the straggler Chinese army was going back after teaching India a lesson
The battalion led by Major Bashyam was fighting to the end and were giving back to the now retreating Chinese
there was intense firing the major and his soldiers fought bravely
the Chinese also shot many
Major Bashyam was wounded but refused to retreat and go down to the field hospital but insisted on saving all his boys he went forward doing that thus saving many ,but a fatal bullet hit him !
if he had left he would still be alive as much as I am now
tears filled the Brigadiers eyes
he was last seen being shot and falling down
they knew it but in the thick do the battle they could not get to him
the air was full of fumes the weather was cold and heavy snowing gave poor visibility
they never found his body as the snow was deep in winter and it was all white
oh no it was all black she thought !
so he had left them , but she had to know yes the truth it was important even after two decades
A closure is always needed
Two decades of a hero who had died for his country
this is the story of his brave widow who was the right partner for a brave officer
one among the many untold stories of unsung heroes
The nation is proud of them and grateful to them .