I have never written about you. I have written about girls I have liked but never written about you. So here I sit down and type this letter just for you, dear mom. Although I don’t have clear memories of my early childhood and never asked you if it was easy for you to give up your job as a nurse to look after me, to take care of me, help me grow up, I thank you for that. It may have been a difficult decision for you to make I assume, but you still did it for me. Women are hardly asked about the effect of quitting their jobs to care for a baby or look after the family. It is expected of them, so much so that in certain cases if the newlywed wife doesn’t intend to give up her career she is criticized unfairly by others. Of course, things are changing in the present times but men are never expected or asked to give up their careers to bring up a son or daughter. You were so practical and did it anyway just for me so that I could receive your love from the moment I was born.
Mom, we don’t talk much. I mean at least when I compare with my friends talking to their mothers I don’t think we talk much. But I tell you things I would never have the courage to tell dad. I tell you about the girl I like, about the time I went to meet her. You ask me if we watched a movie and I say “no, no”. And I always feel very happy when you ask me to get KFC’s zinger burger whenever I go to a mall. Can I tell you something more? I have many close friends who are women, and also if I wanted to have a sibling it would be an elder or younger sister. Perhaps it’s the way in which women-kind can empathize and sympathize that makes them such amazing people, whom one can easily confide in, and talk about most things under the sun without being made fun off. I have guy friends too who share this trait but they are a rarity.
You know the one thing which is so underappreciated and equally undervalued is the immense hard-work you put in maintaining the home and family. It might seem that you are duty-bound to do it but the commitment and perseverance you show is just unbelievable. I have seen you washing clothes early-morning during the winters, do the dishes, when dad and I either just sit in front of the television or doze-off. I have seen you enthusiastically waking up early to prepare breakfast so that dad can go to the office and I can go to school on time, even though you might be running a fever. You never have any designated days as holidays. Dad has off days at work. I have off days as a student. But you never have. I heard you saying once “we women never have a day off”. I didn’t understand it then but now I do. Especially after you fell ill last Christmas and I had to help out dad with the household work. I realized how effortlessly you do the entire body of work without complaining about your grievances. I know I have let you down, by not providing more help in maintaining the house and share the chores to reduce your workload. But I intend to work on it. Men have so-called “more important jobs” and women are left to do the “unimportant, menial tasks”. I don’t think anymore that women do unimportant tasks. Their contribution is as important and sometimes even more as the husband’s or the son’s. I have to make sure that you have holidays too and that we share the household workload more.
Mom, I love your liking for water-less puchkas and excitement for an occasional “yum-yum chili-chicken”. I love your eyes lighting up for steamed-momos, rosgollas and misthi-doi. I love the sweet mango pickle, our “jelly-pickle” you make during the summers and the kheer you make whenever I return home for holidays. I get so delighted when you prepare “tikhil-asma” and “bairka-asma” and our favorite, though tasteless yet very fulfilling “thappa-roti”. I miss the “osa-dishes” you made when I was small. I used to love mushrooms at that point of time. I miss our walks back from primary school. Mom, you know what quality of yours I love the most. Well, it isn’t just one. It’s your humility, your perseverance, your silent sacrifices without ever making a big deal about it, your quiet stillness and calm amidst all chaos, the way you stay calm and brave even during earthquakes when dad gets all panicky and scampers out of the house like a rat. We both know about that. I have grown up to be a bit like you, mom. I definitely look like you and I have some of your qualities, though not up to your level but I am working on it. And I have so much more to say and write but I will stop here now. I know words are never enough and I don’t say this enough but I love you, mom.
Chiradeep: We have among us Mrs. Kalpana Vogeti, who is a mother of two beautiful kids, a boy and a girl. She has been married since August 2009. Right now she lives in Brussels, Belgium along with her family.
I know Kalpana only through WordPress community when I was searching for good articles and writers… It was in the month of May 2016 I stumbled upon her blog and approached her. She agreed right away to be part of Candles Online. Her first article, “Reinventing – Makeover of Inner self” itself revealed her beautiful heart when it was published on 1st June 2016. She is a great buddy. She is a homemaker and a very amicable personality. Initially, I thought she is a happy going and a lady without any struggles in life. But I was wrong when she revealed her struggles later. It’s my delight that I could finally interview her to let the world know about her struggles and how she keeps herself cool. It’s my privilege that she is the first author of Candles Online who will share her heart with the world.
So Kalpana, hello and welcome to ‘Face to Face with Chiradeep’… Are you ready for the interview?
Kalpana: Oh, sure… I am ready!
Chiradeep: Tell us, how old are you now?
Kalpana: I am 32 now.
Chiradeep: What profession are you into?
Kalpana: I am into a profession that requires lot of patience and endurance, I am a housewife.
Chiradeep: Wonderful! But what was the reason you chose this profession?
Kalpana: Well, it seems that this profession chose me. I know that’s a bad one. After marriage when I moved to Belgium, I was not legally allowed to work here and language being a big barrier I had no other choice. French still holds many secrets from me. And then family happened which is much more demanding than a 9 – 5 job. I had to stay back for the sake of my family, my kids.
Chiradeep: Hmm… I can see that you don’t like it to be at home all the time… Do you hate this fact that you had to stay back at home as a homemaker instead of going out and work?
Kalpana: Yes, a lot but eruption of emergency situations at kids’ school, sudden ill health, non-availability of bus etc., that require me to rush at the blink of an eyelid… That reassures me that there’s a reason behind everything.
Chiradeep: You are right. Everything happens for a purpose. We just have to accept what God has kept for us. What would you say if I ask, what’s your purpose in life?
Kalpana: That’s a tough question. I have few short term though they are taking too long time but yeah, goals like attaining the working woman tag for myself, being financially independent, if possible being recognised for my petty articles. I know that’s asking for too much. But I have two very specific purposes in life essentially – be a good mother to my kids, make them a better human and independent; do something good, give something to the society however small it may be. I want to be remembered in good books after I breathe my last.
Chiradeep: That’s incredible though your short term goals are still to be fulfilled yet I believe you will definitely attain then sooner or later.
You have been married since August 2009… Almost nine years… Was it a love marriage or arranged marriage?
Kalpana: Mine is an arranged marriage.
Chiradeep: Wow! Mine is an arranged marriage too. You have two beautiful kids… Tell me about them briefly.
Kalpana: My son Siddharth, is six and a half years old and daughter is 2 and a half years old. My son is specially-abled who thinks differently from this world, he is autistic. My daughter, Nandini, is like Abhimanyu (mythological character) who from womb heard that she has to take care of her brother. She is so young yet so understanding especially when it is about her brother. But don’t be under impression that I don’t have to face tantrums. When both of them are together the house is on fire.
Chiradeep: And that was the struggle you have among all which was hidden behind that smile of yours. I can’t really imagine how it is to have an autistic kid in the family. Help me to understand… How do you manage as a mother of an autistic child?
Kalpana: How I wish Autism come with a manual so that I can check that every time there’s a meltdown. Meltdowns are the toughest to manage. With non-verbal autism I guess it’s a notch higher because I don’t have a clue WHY? He would suddenly out of nowhere start crying, screaming, fretting, behave violently leaving me wondering why and how to pacify him. Sometimes he would grab my finger and would show at what he wants or utters petty words like biscuit, pizza, pasta, ice cream etc. That’s pretty easy. But then there are times when he is simply out of control and behave violently. At that time I exert pressure on him physically. I embrace him or have to pin him down and wait till he is back to normal. He is being a big guy (taller and heavier for his age) it requires me to put lot of energy. I don’t believe in exerting pressure via practices like spanking or caning in such situations as that’s something unintentional and doing so would have deep impact on his confidence towards me and otherwise. It’s not that I have never raised my hand on him but that’s when he is creating some mess and I have to be really, really, really pissed off and my treatment for both kids is same in such matters. But I can proudly say, you can give a better score when it comes to patience as I don’t get angry with him often.
Chiradeep: I understand what you mean and I can definitely feel that you are very patient in dealing with Siddharth. Please continue…
Kalpana: Yeahh…, as a mother to an autistic kid I have a fraction of fear always resting in my mind that he should not harm himself or others around him. And the saddest thing according to me as an addition to all the fiasco is that my son doesn’t sense danger. I am always on toes and have an eye on him when at home.
Chiradeep: Oh my!
Kalpana: I would like to add that Siddharth is a calm child showing signs of improvement when it comes to his day to day activities as well as one to one interactions. He never hurt anyone around him. He is mostly into himself. Even during his meltdowns he never reaches out with the intention of hurting anyone, it’s only when someone is in his vicinity and he is flapping his hands and kicking his legs they would get hurt. Being a mother I have to deal with it only to help him recuperate. I believe in loving him unconditionally because this is something he didn’t chose – Autism.
As he is growing up I know it would be more difficult for me to manage his meltdowns physically. I am already in talks with social services specialising in behavioural therapy for such kids. They would help him to develop interests other than surfing YouTube on tablet or bing on ice cream which we successfully limit it to one per week, enhancing concentration so that he is able to continue with his works without taking an exit in the middle… for the moment he can concentrate only for 5-10 minutes… and lastly, shaping his social integration.
I have a daunting and demanding task ahead. My only wish is to see him independent in every aspect in future so that after his parents are gone he can lead his life on his terms and successfully.
Chiradeep: How does Siddharth manage himself being an autistic child?
Kalpana: It seems he is slowly understanding his surroundings and people around him. He now seems to understand our frustrations on seeing him restless, that really melts me. He is now developing new interests like cooking and swimming. I am sure given a right direction he will find his feet.
Chiradeep: How about your daughter and her role in your family?
Kalpana: She is his ardent supporter and follower, loves him immensely. I would like to make a special mention about my daughter, Nandini here. She is always behind me trying to calm down, entertain, and reach out to her brother. Hopefully she stands by his side in every situation that life throws at him like a rock.
Chiradeep: That’s so good to hear about Nandini. How adorable that kid is… WOW! How supportive is your husband with all that you have around?
Kalpana: What bigger support I can ask for than him to believe me when I said “look we have a problem at hand, we have to handle”. He is always there pumping up my morale, he believes everything is perfectly normal and if it’s not so there could be a reason supporting that. For example when I feel low because of my unemployed status he says it’s good that you are not working, we are saving on tax (that’s pun intentional). He is really supportive, working and thinking 24*7about us, only us.
Chiradeep: What is the best thing you would like to tell about your hubby?
Kalpana: He is not someone who believes in speaking or shouting loud about his concern for his family but believes in actions. In these nine years I never had to think even once about a pending bill (never came to my notice) never heard a cross word when it comes about spending on various miscellaneous items like activities for Siddharth during vacations, funding my further education (we are planning to) no matter how expensive it might be. He places us everything before we could even think of asking them.
Chiradeep: You are blessed to have such a man as your husband and how he tried to fulfill all that his own family needs.
Kalpana! Tell me, what breaks you down at times and how do you manage it?
Kalpana: There are many factors that tend to break me from time to time, for instance my financial dependence, rejections from the recruiters. But I try to draw inspiration from lives of greats who never let failures or hardships break them, some prayer and deep introspection helps me to rejuvenate.
Chiradeep: So when you suffer discouragements, negative feelings affecting your mental states or you feel stressed out then what you do you do to bust your stress and negativities?
Kalpana: Sleeping makes me feel lighter and fresh… I sleep over everything and feel fresh after a good, long sleep.
Chiradeep: That’s a natural stress buster gifted to us by the Creator. Fantastic!
What are your weakness and strength? Briefly discuss about each if you are comfortable to share with us.
Kalpana: I guess trusting others easily is my biggest weakness. I am emotional to the core and that’s why I fail to look beyond emotions. That did cost me dearly many times.
My strengths! Hmm… I believe is my ability to accommodate in any situation. I am an easy going person who can squeeze through any situation. I am not rigid, that really helps when life is up for twists and turns.
Chiradeep: That’s a great way of looking at your strengths. So you are like water and can accommodate in any container and take the shape of the container. Lovely!
Kalpana, one thing really amazes me… and that’s your smile. You smile all the time though I haven’t met you in person but I have a feeling that you are never grumpy…
So my next question would be what is the secret behind your smile?
Kalpana: My selfies say I look good with that smile rather than a pout, sorry won’t boast and self proclaim. I believe in smiling from within.
Chiradeep: Hahaha! Lovely and witty…!!!
Before we end here, what would you like to tell your readers today to inspire them?
Kalpana: Success hasn’t adorned me yet so I can’t really inspire anyone but I would like to share an important message to everyone who are aspiring to reach great heights or who is already well settled there – Stay grounded, never ever forget your roots, success shall speak for you and it shouldn’t be the other way round. The only accessory to go well with knowledge and success is humility, be humble always.
Chiradeep: This is such a fantastic interview and I loved the way you answered all the questions Kalpana. God bless you and may He bless your amazing family especially the one who has been so specially abled – Siddharth.
Dear Readers! Mind it, Autism is a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. So Kalpana, being a mother of an autistic boy is doing a commendable job and she very well explained how difficult it is to manage the boy when he is growing bigger and stronger than her. She is such a valiant lady who taught us to be smiling all the time in every situation.
Lately life has taught me a lot in ways that I wouldn’t prefer.
It was 14th Feb, while everybody was busy wishing Valentine’s day to their loved ones – I was sitting in the hospital with my 3 year old son who had 103 degree fever. Unaware of what is causing the recurrent fever spikes, I was getting really tensed. He has had on and off cough since almost a month which I was not able to get rid of. I thought I had tried all possibilities to get rid of his cough but little did I know what lay ahead.
After 3 hours in the hospital I was in the doctor’s room. With the X-Ray report on her screen, the doctor looked at me seriously and said he has lung infection. We need to start him on antibiotics immediately. I was shocked. Lung infection? Again? Why? I had done all that the previous doctor had told me. What did I miss? He had a serious case of pneumonia when he was 1.5 years old and now again when he was 3. What did I do wrong?
Well 2 days of antibiotic did no impact on the infection. We had to admit him for 3 days. I cried to my pillow like crazy on the second night. Not just because I was worried but I felt horrible that I could not take care of him enough. It was only me and Joey on the third day in hospital because all other family members had to go attend a family wedding (which I and my son missed because of this unwelcomed infection).
When we came back from hospital, his immunity had dropped considerably. I had to leave my dog at the dog care center because animal hair would make his situation even worse. I called in Aasthato stay with me for those few days till my family would come back and she was a great help. He seemed to get better in a couple of days and I restarted his school – scared and worried.
Though things were getting back to normal, a couple of weeks later we visited a pulmonogist because it is not common for 3 year old to get pneumonia twice. I was literally hoping that he doesn’t give me any bad news regarding the anatomy of his lungs. He did not. But he said something worse – you cannot ignore even a single cough after a case of pneumonia. He needs to eat healthy, avoid dust, no pets, no junk food. Well, all this is something a mother generally knows isn’t it? Where did I miss it? Why didn’t I take him to pulmonogist when his cough wasn’t going away with cough syrups or anti-allergic? Why did I wait for the infection to reach his lungs? Am I not educated enough or do I not have common-sense?
Well, these are the thoughts that run into my mind now and they kill me every day. But initially I blamed everything apart from myself to run into this situation. I blamed my husband for staying away from us, and everybody else in my support system for not taking care of him enough, my work for keeping me extra busy, the circumstances, the doctor who told me that it is common cold and will go away with cough syrups. It took me time to see that I was standing right in middle of all this and all fingers are pointing at me. Every time I would talk to anybody about it, I would try to get defensive and say “You know that doctor doesn’t know anything” or “You know ginger honey really doesn’t work on cough” or whatever.
It took me almost a month of misery to take the responsibility of the situation. And I know that I was fearing getting blamed for all this. Well the fact is that I could have avoided him a lot of pain and whether I get blamed or not – I need to take responsibility of it. The sooner I accept the responsibility, lesser is the fear of being blamed. Blaming others is always easy but that is just one way of not accepting the responsibility.
Like they say – life sometime teaches you a hard way, especially when you resist learning something.
“Chocolate?” asked Pihu offering a bar of Silk Cadbury.
“No. Thanks! Pihu you know I don’t eat chocolates, don’t you?” snapped Samar.
“Chill…chill, I just tried Ok? Just like I have been trying for last 6 years. But you don’t seem to be willing to move on.” Pihu stormed out of the room leaving Samar alone. She knew well that today Samar would want to be secluded. It has always been like that. Every year, 25th July would be a dark day. Samar would often spend the whole day without talking much and would be in a somber mood. Pihu knew what the reason was and she felt as much pain, but Samar never saw her pain bigger than his. Samar was in his own cocoon of grief and guilt. Not that he never tried to accept what had happened, but he failed every time. Life may not always give a second chance and that is exactly what Samar was regretting.
Samar was carrying immense guilt for last six years. He blamed himself for Sagar’s death. Sagar regretted not having returned home earlier than he did. He could never reason to himself why it took ten long years to muster the courage and approach his own family. So what if Amish was not his biological father, it never made Amish love him less. So what if Sagar was a step brother? Samar could never love him any less, not even today when he was dead. And what about Ruma? How could he abandon her? She had given him birth, raised him loved him so much and had saved him from his (so called) real father. What had happened if Ruma had decided to dump him in a garbage bin because she was too young to care of such a small baby all alone? What had happened if Ruma had left him to grow up with his smuggler dad? Samar couldn’t count his blessings in the form of his family and even then he estranged himself from them for ten years. He never thought about what they must be going through after he just walked away from home one night. Samar could never forgive himself for causing so much pain to the most important people in his life.
Samar continued to drown deeper in the cyclone of guilt. He regretted that the box of chocolates his mother had packed for him and that note Sagar had left inside could never reach him that day. Sagar wanted to tell him something that he couldn’t on that day when he walked away from his family. But alas, Samar would never know what it was. That secret died with Sagar. Only if he had kept his hurt aside and returned home earlier, perhaps he could have known about Sagar’s ailment earlier and could have taken him to the best of the doctors. May be, Sagar’s condition would have never deteriorated. May be Sagar could have lived more? Only if he had handled that evening when Sagar blamed him to be unfit in the family more maturely, all four of them would have never wasted 10 years of their life. Only if…. Only if… and more Only ifs! But regrets have no value. It was too late. Sagar succumbed to kidney failure on 25th July, six years ago. It was exactly one day after Samar had decided to take the Road To Home, but Sagar was gone, gone forever! His little brother had travelled to heavens and the family was incomplete once again! Samar did not get enough time to say the final goodbye! Samar wanted to apologize to Sagar for leaving him alone for 10 years, he wanted to tell him how much he had missed him all these years, he wanted to tell him how much he loved him even then, but Sagar didn’t give him a chance. Or was it destiny?
“No Ma, Samar has not had food.” Pihu was talking to Ruma on phone. Ruma would call every night to check on her son and daughter-in-law.
“Hmm… as expected. But beta, you have the dinner.” Ruma advised with a concern for Pihu.
“Yes Ma, don’t worry. I have had dinner already. Ma, it’s been 6 years and none of us have been able to do anything about Samar’s behavior. I am worried about him. I just fail to understand how to take care of him on this very day every year. I understand that it was a very big loss to the family, but how this behavior is going to help? It pains me to see him carry that guilt because it is slowly killing him Ma. He doesn’t understand that neither you nor daddy holds him responsible for Sagar’s death. He fails to understand that Sagar went away untimely not because of him but because of destiny” Pihu was pouring out her helplessness to Ruma
“I understand how tough it must be for you beta. But you are the only one who can do something really. Amish and I have attempted several times. But he never opens up in front of us. Never mind, don’t feel pressurized. Let’s hope that Samar overcomes his guilt some day!” Ruma gave up, like always!
“Hmm… Let’s hope so! I will talk to you tomorrow Ma. Don’t forget to have your medicines before going to sleep. Bye!” Unwilling to discuss further, Pihu cut short the conversation.
She went to the kitchen to make one last attempt to make Samar have dinner. She took his plate to the place she expected him to be at – right in front of Sagar’s portrait in the drawing room. Samar had switched off the lights, probably to hide the tears streaming down his cheeks. He had clasped his hands together and bowed his head down as if he was apologizing to Sagar for not being able to save him.
Pihu placed his dinner plate on a side table and hugged him tight. She couldn’t see Samar like this. Both of them couldn’t stop crying. Samar was crying for having lost his brother to the hands of destiny and Pihu was crying because she was losing her husband to the hands of guilt. They stood still for, god knows, how many minutes like that and then suddenly something struck Pihu.
She set Samar free from her embrace, turned him around wildly and said,
“Samar, Sagar is going to come back home. He is going to be with us soon. We all are going to live like one happy family again!”
“What???” shrieked Samar. “Have you gone mad? Does the dead ever rise from the grave?”
“Believe me Samar; we are going to have Sagar back. You are going to be able to jump into puddles with him when it rains – just like you did in the childhood. You are going to be able to do everything again Samar– right from waking him up to bathing him, getting him dressed and taking him to school, bringing him home, giving him lunch, making him sleep, helping him do his homework and then playing with him. You are going to have your Sagar back Samar!” Pihu spoke in one breath. She felt as if it was a Eureka moment!
Samar looked at her in disbelief and questioned, “How is it possible Pihu?”
“I am pregnant Samar. The reports say that the expected date of delivery is 15th January. Isn’t that Sagar’s birthday? Life is going to give us a second chance Samar! Sagar wants to come back home.”
And the news seemed like unburdening all of Samar’s heaviness in minutes letting Pihu know that the healing process has finally started after so long.
The surging of emotions were so much that Samar got choked. He wasn’t expecting that he will find Sagar in this condition. All three of them were in tears as they hugged each other in happiness as well as in deep sorrow. There was happiness of Samar coming back and at the same time there was the pain of Sagar’s sudden sickness.
Sagar was unconscious for quite sometime till he got back to his senses after he was given the emergency treatment. Samar and his parents were waiting outside… sitting and praying for their child to get back consciousness and recover quick so that they all can make merry and celebrate as a whole family together after 10 long years. Ruma and Amish were just thanking God for bringing Samar at the right moment when they needed someone very close to be there to take care of all the situation that came up so sudden. At this age when they were supposed to take rest they had to rush to the hospital with their well grown up son in an emergency condition.
“He got back his consciousness but the condition is very critical… we need to discuss about something very serious and emergency as soon as possible…” The doc came out of the emergency ward and declared with a very serious voice which was unbearable for Ruma. Samar clasped her hands in his and assured that nothing will happen to Sagar and he would never let anything happen to Sagar.
Samar asked, “Doc, may I just meet my brother once and then we can discuss about the matter… I will be looking after everything…” He declared clearly looking at the doctor as well as to his parents making them feel proud as well as relieved. And when the doctor nodded and went his way they all walked towards the room to see Sagar.
Samar’s legs and hands were cold and there’s a chilling sensation in his spine that he was feeling as he walked slowly behind his parents. He felt as if he will fall down. His emotions were making his whole body to shake in excitement. There was an amazing joy that was bubbling out of his heart with a feeling of fear and apprehension about losing his brother again. Ruma could not control herself and started sobbing at the very sight of Sagar in a very pathetic condition. She had never seen him so vulnerable and helpless before and her motherly heart was broken to pieces. Amish went ahead of them and caressed Sagar’s forehead and called his name, “Sagar… Look, who has come to meet you…”
Samar tried to appear as soon as possible in front of his eyes before he opens it so that he can have a look at his beloved baby brother for sometime as he was scared to meet eyes with his. Sagar didn’t open his eyes immediately as he was in deep pain. He made a painful grunting sound…
“Saa… Sagg… Sagerr… Beta… it’s me… Bhai…” Samar’s feeble voice hit Sagar’s ears hard and he opened his eyes wide right away and could not believe whom he saw… He was astounded completely… He was unable to express his feelings… Samar held out his younger brother’s hand as he started weeping like a child looking at him… And the atmosphere was very pathetic… Sagar was dumbfounded and was unmoved with the storms of emotions were ready to burst out of him… His tears were rolling down his cheeks… Samar bent down on his brother and wiped his tears with his fingers whispered softly, “I am back my baby bro… And I will never ever leave you again…” Samar smiled and clasped Sagar’s palms with his. Samar leaned down further to hug his brother lying on the bed and they hugged… Samar kissed his cheeks and forehead as they both wept in joy of meeting together after a decade. Samar controlled himself and sensibly so, as it was not very safe for Sagar to be too excited or emotional at that critical time. He excused himself after sometime and went to meet the doctor.
Samar had a very thorough discussion with the doctor understanding the condition of Sagar and he had never ever imagined that he will have to go through all these all of a sudden in his life. Sagar’s kidneys were damaged and he needed a transplant within two days to live further. Samar didn’t wait for a minute and paid all the amount that was needed for the kidney and the surgery was fixed right away the very next day. The family of four was not quite feeling steady with all kinds of emotions pressing them harder from all sides making them extremely unstable.
The very next morning all of them were in Sagar’s room as he was getting ready to be taken inside the operation theater… He was very happy seeing his brother, his father like brother with him and his parents at this difficult time yet he wondered, “how come this man forgot every hurts that I inflicted on him 10 years ago!” He called Samar near him and softly said, “Thanks Bhai… Thanks for forgiving this idiot and being with the whole family at this time…” Samar listened to him and warned him saying, “Now, shut up kiddo… Don’t you know, ‘a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity?’” Samar gave him and the parents the hope that Sagar will be alright soon, before the nurse rolled his stretcher in the corridor towards the OT. Sagar showed his thumb to his family cheering them as he entered the OT and the door was closed.
Samar was hopeful yet was regretting for his step 10 years ago which literally make the whole family go through such pain like this. But Ruma and Amish were happy finding their broken family coming together at last. Ruma, let her heart poured out to Samar… letting him know the secret which was hidden for years as they were waiting outside for the dreadful surgery to get over.
He was there, on the raised dais. He looked so handsome, that calm, serene look on his face. A soft smile played on his lips. His favourite perfume was scenting the whole area. The suit was made-to-order, it looked so perfect on him. The black Tuxedo. He had ordered it just last month. Had made special demands to keep the coat a bit short, he hated long coats. His wedding ring glinted on his left hand. She had pinned the red rose in his buttonhole, added the golden pin on the tie, kissing his forehead again and again. She still remembered how proudly she had looked down on him the day he had been chosen to be a Pilot for Air Force. She had saluted him.
His face had radiated with happiness and eyes shone with pride. She could never forget that high five he gave his younger sister, hugging her, punching the air. She was his mother; everybody referred to her as “Alec’s Mum”, she could feel everything he felt in her heart. She brushed the fond memory from her mind and the tear that rolled from her cheek. She gave him a flying kiss from down there. Alec was her firstborn, her perfect son.
People went on the stage one by one, giving him flowers, kissing his forehead. Every mother dreams of this day when her son would get married. His bride stood next to him; they got married this morning in the church. His friend Ravi, who was also his best man stood on the right. Shirley was such a lovely girl. Such love radiated from her as she stood to his left. She was fiddling with her wedding ring, rolling it over and over.
And down in a perfect line were all his friends, from school, from NDA, from Air Force. They were such thick friends. He used to be the life of parties, and his friends counted on Akshay to make the party go on all night long. She scolded him badly when he came back home drunk; he would always apologise the next morning, hugging her and lifting her up till she forgave him.
He was a forgetful one. “Ma, my wallet? Ma, my file? Ma, my shoes?”, He needed her all the time, but not from today. From today he would be no more dependent on her. She heard his best friend make a speech for him; there was pin drop silence. His picture, one taken in the morning after they exchanged rings was sitting on a huge easel. The hall was packed to full. Each one who knew Alec was there. No one missed this chance. His friends would go with him to the very last.
After the speeches were done it was silence. It was time. She walked up on the dais and ran a hand over Alec’s forehead pushing his hair back; they always fell into his eyes, she kissed his cheek softly once before he was gone. Shirley hugged him and kissed his lips, resting her head on his chest. Four of his friends came forward; they were in uniform. They carried the folded flag, they closed his casket and covered it in India’s flag. She felt proud, without shedding a tear, she looked straight up. They lifted his coffin and walked out carrying him. Each one stood, saluted him. She saw her son leave; his last flight was waiting for him, his last journey.
The morning after his wedding, in his reception hall, few terrorists came into the lobby and took all the guests hostage. Police and armed forces surrounded the building, but none could rescue them. The rebels made demands and threatened to kill the hostages if those demands weren’t met with. Alec and his friends couldn’t do much without any weapons, but they fought back valiantly. Alec managed to sneak into the kitchens and got some knives from the kitchen. He and his friends tackled the terrorists brilliantly, wounding them enough to have them under control. Alec was getting the guests out from the back window when he saw one the terrorist take out a hidden gun from his boot and he opened fire on the guests.
Alec got to him, before any of his friends could act and was shot multiple times as he gave cover to the guests. He died on the spot. She saw it with her own eyes. She held him in his lap, soaked in his blood, crying her heart out. This was his funeral. Her son was a hero. He gave his life for his country and saved each one. Each man and woman present felt indebted to her beloved son. She wiped her eyes for the last time and gave her last salute to Lieutenant Alec McGraw.