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.)

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