An unputdownable lesson on happiness from a slain soldier’s wife

Sometimes Life may just disturb a perfect, picture-postcard family. There are no sure ways to deal with such a situation – you just learn to cope and live.
At R-Day 2015: Indhu set to receive the Ashok Chakra
from the President awarded to Mukund posthumously
Picture Courtesy: Internet
Yesterday, I learnt this lesson, one more time, from Indhu Mukund. On Republic Day yesterday, as the entire nation watched, along with our special guests, US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, Indhu, 31, wife of slain Army officer Major Mukund Varadarajan (who died in action in Shopian in Jammu and Kashmir on April 25,  2014), received the Ashok Chakra – India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, from President Pranab Mukherjee, that was awarded to her husband posthumously. Indhu later told NDTV’s Barkha Dutt (see the full interview here): “India should see the man Mukund was, not my sorrow.” Indhu added that it was “Mukund’s day, his moment” yesterday and she did not want any trace of her own emotion to “interfere” with it. Such stoicism is a rare blessing. All I can do is to salute her and send her my prayers and positive energy.
The picture-postcard family: Indhu, Arshea, Mukund
Photo Courtesy: Internet
Until a year ago, the Mukunds were the perfect family. Their daughter Arshea was barely 3 years old and everything seemed so good to be true. And then Mukund had to go. There was national attention on Indhu, Arshea and on Mukund’s parents. But then like most stories, this one too, despite its emotional, human interest appeal, died down. The Ashok Chakra announcement put the spotlight back on Indhu and the family again. This morning’s papers too are full of pictures of her receiving the award. And then again, soon, everyone will go on with their lives. Mukund’s sacrifice will just remain a memory for some, and for most, a general knowledge data point. Dutt asked Indhu on her show last night if she would ever be bitter with this possibility. Indhu responded with amazing maturity that she would not. “I don’t expect anyone to remember Mukund the way the family will. If the nation remembers him as a patriot that’s good. The emotions are for me, for us as a family.” And finally, Dutt asked Indhu how she coped, how she has been able to stay strong: “Is it because of the love you had for Mukund?” And Indhu replied, again with disarming equanimity, “It is because of the love I havefor him. And the regard I have for him. He would have loved me to be happy. And my strength to live happily and give Arshea a happy Life comes from that.”
Almost everyone struggles with death. And there is no one who has not experienced a personal loss, through the death of someone close. Despite the fact that it is the only thing you can be sure of in Life – that everyone among us will die someday, death, when it arrives, stuns you. It numbs you. It is particularly devastating when it is sudden and snuffs away someone that is so full of Life – like Mukund – and renders incomplete a beautiful family such as his. There are no ways to prepare for such a situation. There are no methods to deal with this inscrutable Life. The only lesson we can learn, every time we hear a story such as the Mukunds, is to promise to live our lives – fully and make each day count; to never postpone happiness and, in a very practical, selfish sense, never postpone family time. And should the picture-postcard be disturbed – and it will be some day – learn from Indhu to be happy despite the circumstances. There is no other way to live, no other way to cope and certainly no other way to be happy!
(PS: Let us take a minute to humbly acknowledge the sacrifice of all the soldiers who have laid down their lives for our nation. And let us pray for the well-being of their precious families.)

Death is an inspiration – reminding us to LIVE intensely!

In the end, we all have to go. And those who have known us, will only be left with memories. So, we might as well live our lives fully, happily and touch as many lives as we can in this lifetime!

3-year-old Arshea bidding Major Mukund Varadarajan goodbye
Picture Courtesy: The Major’s Family/Internet
India lost a brave son a few days ago – Major Mukund Varadarajan, 32, of the 44thBattalion of the Rashtriya Rifles. He was killed in an encounter with terrorists in Shopian, Kashmir, on April 25. The papers have been full of public anger and grief, even as his family has remained stoic and patient – despite the media frenzy and all the VVIP attention they have been receiving. A while ago, I spotted this picture on facebook on Major Mukund’s wall. The caption said it all: “Daddy’s Little Princess. Final goodbye. Arshea at the Besant Nagar crematorium.” There was another picture too – of Indhu, the Major’s wife, receiving his uniform from one of his colleagues. And the caption said: “All that remains are memories and these.”

I kept looking at the pictures for a long, long time. They drove home a truth that is hard to miss. When it’s our time, we too will have to go. It is inevitable. But the question is, will we have lived a full Life by then – completing whatever we have always wanted to accomplish? Will we have made a difference to the lives of people in our circle of influence? What kind of memories will we have left behind?

These are significant questions that can make a huge difference to the way we look at Life. And, hopefully, change the way we think, live, work and love. We must understand that we have not been created on this planet to be running on a treadmill forever. This Life has to be lived – not just to earn hard now to live another day; but it has to be lived fully, enjoying each moment of it thoroughly. Death must not be feared nor should we be sad or overwhelmed by it. Death is an inevitable reality – and all of us, without exception – from the time we left the womb, have been heading for a certain death. The process can take time, days, months or even years, and exceptionally as in the case of Khushwant Singh (1915~2014) and Zohra Sehgal (1912~she turned 102 this past Sunday), even a century! But none can avoid it. So, when you understand Life, death can actually be an inspiration, because every time we see death around us it reminds us of the opportunity we have to live – when we can! As Osho, the Master says, “Death is your constant shadow. It is telling you – ‘I can come any moment. Be prepared.’ And what is the preparation? The preparation is: live life so totally, so intensely, be so aflame with it that when death comes there is no complaint, there is no grudge.”

Yes, we will have lived well, lived a brilliant Life, when we can go away calmly, without struggle – either for us or for those that we leave behind.