There are so many surveys about social networking sites and all are unanimous that they are the most damaging platform on mental and behavioural health. However, sometimes, all of us see people and read stories, they can make us feel like we are missing out, or not doing enough with our life. They make us realize that we are not perfect and we are doing nothing for the nation and society.
Recently one such story was in circulation on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Shri Lachman Singh Rathore was a very graceful and dignified old man. He was a very calm and composed man. He was standing silently in a corner, a tired old man. He was wearing white dhoti and kurta. His dhoti was tied around his waist, cradled just above his naval area. His black shoes were weary but polished. He looks out at the situation through experienced eyes those have seemed happy and majestic days only known to him. They light up whenever he speaks of the birth of sons, or when freedom and nation are mentioned in any context regardless of the situation.
The helicopter appeared over the late morning sphere.
All were at the airstrip to receive Mr Lachhman Singh Rathore who was coming to our Flight Unit to perform the last rites and cremation of his son, Flying Officer Vikram Singh.
Only the day before, Wing Commander Venki Iyer had sent him the telegram, “Deeply regret to inform that your son Flying Officer Vikram Singh lost his life in a flying accident early this morning. Death was instantaneous.”
It was the first time for Wing Comdr Venki Iyer to face and manage the bereaved next of kin, in this case, the Father of the brave departed officer.
While most of the bereaved family members insist to see the mortal remains of the body, many a time there isn’t a body or nothing to show! Nothing remains…
Flying Officer Vikram Singh’s mortal remains were only a few kilos –scrapped and collected with great difficulty from that was left in the cockpit. The wooden coffin had to be filled with wood and other things.
All the officers and other staff were there at the airstrip to receive Shri Lachhman Singh Rathor. The pilot brought the helicopter to a perfect landing. Soon Shri Lachhman Singh Rathore was helped down the ladder. He was a short stature and frail man, maybe of 80 years, clad in a clean and tidy dhoti.
As Wing Commander Venki Iyer came near to him, he asked in a calm and dignified whisper, “Are you Venki, the Flight Commander?” “Yes, Sir.” “Vikram had spoken a lot to me about you. I’d like to talk to you when you are alone for a minute.”
The ill-fated accident took place at Sarmat Field Air Range, near the Jamnagar Airbase, Gujarat on Thursday, 31 August 2012. In the crash, Flying Officer Vikram Singh died.
All walked silently to the border of the concrete platform. ‘I have lost my son, and you have lost a friend. I’m sure that you have taken every care in arranging the funeral and last rites. Please tell me when and where you need my presence and what you want me to do. I’ll be there accordingly for everything. Later, I would like to meet Vikram’s friends, see his room and, if it is permitted, visit his workplace. I then would like to go back home tomorrow morning.”
Wing Commander Venki Iyer was astonished to see the clear perception of the old man in that devastating hour. A commander could not have given me clearer directives.
The funeral, with full military honours, was completed by late afternoon. The old man lit the funeral pyre. It was a heart-wrenching scene.
Lachhman Singh spent the evening talking to the Squadron Pilots, after the final echoes of the ‘Last Post’ faded away. He visited Vikram’s room with Vikram's roommate.
Lachhman Singh wished to spend the night in his son’s room instead of the guesthouse that had arranged for him. Early the next morning after a visit to the squadron area, the squadron chief took him to his office.
A little later, the staff car took Lachhman Singh to the civil airfield that needed two hours drive.
As the staff the car left with Lachhman Singh to the civil airfield, Wing Commander Venki Iyer remarked to his Boss, “A brave man he is. Spoke to me like a General when he told me exactly what he expected from us during his stay here. I have never seen a more composed man on such an occasion. I admire him.”
The Chief responded calmly, “Yes, Mr Lachhman Singh Rathore is a warrior in his own way. He sired three sons and has laid to rest all three of them.
His first son Captain Ghanshyam Singh of the Gurkha Rifles was killed in Ladakh in 1962 War. His second son, Major Bir Singh, died along the Ichogil Canal in 1965 in an ambush. His youngest, Vikram Singh, who had the courage to join the Air Force, is also gone now. This ordinary looking farmer has contributed and sacrificed more to our country, defence forces and people than all of the so-called Bharat Ratnas combined. It seems that Lachhman Singh Rathore and his family belongs to Rajasthan and settled in Jaipur.
It was a very a touching and sombre occasion which left all teary-eyed as Taruma, wife of Vikram Singh, who is also an officer in IAF, saluted the body of her husband, the last time and Varun, his 10-year-old son lit the funeral pyre at the Adarsh Nagar Crematorium Ground Jaipur, and performed the last rites according to Hindu rituals.
The mortal remains of Singh were brought to Jaipur in Rajasthan by an IAF helicopter and senior Army and Air Force Officers (IAF) escorted the body. The wreaths were laid on behalf of Army and Air Force Chiefs. The officers of the district administration also laid a wreath on behalf of the state government.
Truly, Shri Lachhman Singh Rathore is undeniably a valiant Indian; in fact, he is more Indian than anybody else - His sacrifice can never ever be refunded by the country!! He martyred himself by giving his three sons to the defence forces. He is almost a Martyr himself!!
But this the ungrateful nation does not know this great Giant -- India only knows those super-rich and corrupt politicians, cricketers, film stars etc and conferred Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushans and Padma Shree but nothing for these true Bharat Ratnas!!
But what about the ' Losers ' ?? Those who have simply lost their everything for the nation. Like Shree Shri Lachhman Singh Rathore, father of Three Brave Martyred Soldiers and Sons.
This story should be taught in school syllabus ‘A brave father of brave sons’.
How the country could repay its debt to him. Nobody knows. Perhaps, where nobody pays even the bank loans and loan waving is a great national festival. We only pray for them and put a wreath on their coffin and forget.
Please read this story and circulate it widely who love their nation and care their brave martyred soldiers.
It may take time and may not be during our lifetimes but movements produce results to ensure the pride of place to the Defence Services.
N.B: This story is based on the story and details mentioned by Wing Commander Venki Iyer in circulation on WhatsApp.