It was my first visit to a martyr’s family, my first meeting with them. It was Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s birthday. Before meeting them, I had heard stories from my friends about their experience of meeting a martyr’s family. Naturally I was extremely curious and of course nervous too. We had a rough idea of the direction of the house. When we reached the nearby locality, we saw banners wishing Major Unnikrishnan a happy birthday. We knew we are in the right place.
We were greeted by his mother. Earlier, I saw only one video of her in the news channels where she was mourning beside his son’s coffin. And now, when I saw her after 5 years, she was calm, composed, but still equally emotional. There were many visitors but she welcomed each one of us personally with equal warmth. A proud mother with lots of pain hidden in her heart that reflects in her eyes. The house where Major’s parents live now is a newly built one. And Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan stayed there for only one month. When he was there in the house with his family, he regularly used to take her mother for morning walk and jogging. Today also she regularly goes for morning walk, only because her son inspired and accompanied her one upon a time. She showed us all the albums of her son from childhood till the last day. We saw the training photos of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in the metro station of Kolkata. Throughout I found her soft yet composed, steady but still you will feel that she is at the verge of vulnerability.
And then she showed that photo – the blood stained floor of that room in the Taj Hotel, Mumbai. Taj Hotel, Mumbai – where his son fought till his last breath. He attained supreme sacrifice saving many customers and employees of that hotel. And the blood in the room of that photograph was Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s blood. His parents explained me the photo. Can you imagine, can you feel the pain a parents have when they show the photo of a room stained with the blood of their only son who was young, dynamic and full of opportunities?
Feel it, feel it. That blood was shed by Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan to save his countrymen. And those countrymen were busy criticizing the death sentence of Ajmal Kasab. They forgot that they were alive to discuss that Ajmal Kasab had biriyani before he was hanged, only because Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and many more brave men of our country gives their life every day protecting the life of their countrymen. We remember and cry for 9/11 (9th September). Surely it was a horrible incident and painful too as it involved loss of lives. But my dear countrymen, how many of you remember today, 26/11 (26th November)? How many of you remember those lives that were lost saving other lives?
When we forget to remember, the parents of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan every year, this day, visit that hotel, that room to pay respect to not only his son but to all the brave sons of this motherland who gave their life protecting others.
As I was leaving their house last year March, his father gave me a small card on the occasion of his son’s 37th birthday. It says “If you start off being afraid of failure, you will end up also fearing success; because then you will have something to lose” – words that Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan used to say often, used to believe and practice in his life.