Shakti roopena sangasthita – My Hero, My Neeta : LT. NEETA DESWAL

Yes, the beginning was very very filmy. As you have seen in the movie Main Hu Na. The train enters and… Actually the entire story is very very filmy . But mind it, its as real as it can be – with a real hero.

I still remember our first meet. Her train was scheduled to reach Bangalore at 4am. She was coming alone with a broken hand. So Vikas and myself decided to receive her. Vikas had to jump over the gates as it was closed at that early morning. While waiting for the train we discussed the uncertainties of life.

And the train came. We had seen her in photos only with long hair. And then she embarked from the train. .. short hair, broken hand. As I shook her hand, it was rough, hard. I still remember her saying the first thing to me “Di, bring a kajal for me. They don’t allow it in academy. I look like a boy. Your hands are so soft and see mine”. I wish I could tell her that till today I die for that boyish look and rough hands. I so wish…

Before we realised, we were bonded for ever… in a relationship that is much stronger, deeper and closer to many blood relations. I found a sweet little sister in Neeta and enjoyed being her didi. She had broken her hand in a judo match in the academy and I was lucky that she came to the command hospital, Bangalore for the treatment. Guess what? All the brave ladies from armed forces reached her hospital cabin to cheer her you with flowers and cake. That included family of Colonel Jojan Thomas, Major Shafeeq Ghori, Major Akshay Girish and Captain Naveen Nagappa Sir himself with his family. Her induction to the DESH FAMILY was instant!

I used to cook fish for her and this crazy girl had requested me to bring wish from Bangalore to chennai during her POP! I couldn’t as I was staying with Varadarajan uncle’s who are shuddh shakahari. One afternoon my daughter Aparajita accompanied me to meet her. And it was love at first sight. Aparajita says Neeta aunty is her hero, her favourite. I never had any problem in convincing her for a short hair cut as Neeta aunty’s hair was short. Neeta loves her Appu as much as she loves her Arjun. They walked together, swing together, played together and chatted over phone. I am lucky as Aparajita found her role model whom she looks up to in the tender age of 5 years.

Despite severe pains and sessions of physiotherapy my tigress always told me “Didi, mujhe jaldi thik hona hai. I don’t want to loose any more terms “. The path she chose was not smooth. But she is a fighter, as brave as her husband Shaheed Major Amit Deswal, 21 Para. Few of her relatives created problems and threats and troubled her as much as possible. But she stood strong braving all those storms. She had to stay away from her loving son of 5 years for an year. She did that too. Here I must tell that their son Arjun is also a fighter, as brave as his parents. Its not easy to loose father at the tender age of 3 and stay away from his mother at the age of 4 years. But he did it. Being the source of strength for his mother. As the saying goes “behind army there is an army”. Not only she braved emotional obstacles, but she won the physical one too. Can you imagine my hero ran 30km at night, played judo.

Yes she is my hero, my champ. Aparajita’s “favourite soldier “. I had to witness her Passing out Parade and see my dear sister Neeta of become Lt. Neeta Deswal. Those stars shining on her shoulders are her wings and no one can stop her from flying high, high and high. Love you Neeta, Lt. Neeta Deswal, also wife of Major Amit Deswal.




When the nation is busy asking for proof from my men in uniform as they came back safely after the surgical strike, when the reel heroes of this nation were busy supporting Pakistani actors who never cared to condemn Uri attack, we got connected to one more family. One more family became a part of our life and we will be connected for ever.

My Durga puja started last Thursday with my visit to the family of Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui, Uri martyr. Ma durga who protected all the gods visits her mother during this time of the year. And he left his mother, his home, to protect his another mother, his dear motherland and us. Ma durga will return every year. But he will never return as he now rests on the lotus feet of Ma Durga.

As I was going to his village, a thought came that he also came back home for the last time boxed in a coffin, draped in tri colour through the same road. He was sleeping peacefully. No pain, no loss was bothering him anymore. He was sleeping peacefully that 18th September night also when the traitors,terrorists attacked them. They were killed. From Friday Durga puja started. As I was nearing his village,every young boy I saw in new cloth i remembered him. I wished he was Gangadhar. I so wish he was alive among us , celebrating Durga puja with his family. Those who are not bothered about the Uri martyrs must have not lost any dear ones in their life. On my way to his home a bunch of young rough men stopped the car to collect money for Durga puja. As soon as i took his name, they spared me with huge respect. Who says that my state don’t know how to show respect to her martyrs ? This is the glory of a shaheed

I started my journey with a Google map in my hand. I just knew the name of the village. As I reached the village, the villagers guided me to their hero’s home. As I knocked the door, the mother of Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui asked me to come inside.

We have never talked before. She has not seen or known me before. As I went inside and touched her feet, she broke down into tears.A mother’s pain has no words to express. It can only be felt. It seems that her life left along with her son.

Despite hailing from a very poor family and an interior village, she inspired and worked hard to send his son to Indian Army. And today, what pains her most is that she was at home in her safe and comfort zone. Her 22 years old son was also sleeping peacefully. Enemies killed his son in sleep. She wished if the enemies had the guts to attack from the front. She has full faith on the bravery of her son.

After the passing out parade of Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui, he became a vegetarian. According to him, he took an oath to protect life. So he stopped taking non-veg food.

22 years is a very tender age. He had a lot of dreams and duties that remain unfulfilled. He wanted to repair his house, give his mother all the comforts in the world. Life is so uncertain.

Through the journey of visiting the families of martyrs, we have realized that it is far more tough to be a family of a martyr than to be a martyr. It needs far more bravery and strength to deal with the untimely loss that comes without any preparation. May the family of our young brave heart Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui get all the strength to deal with the irreparable loss. Jai Hind.

#UriAttack #SepoyGangadharDalui


Army love

Army is:-
When a cold and shivering jawan gets you a cup of hot tea on a patrol break at 13,000 feet.
When your sixth sense tells you there is something wrong with a guy at 50 meters.
When you meet with an accident and the first thing you check is the serviceability of your legs.
When you speak the language of your boys.
When you sit from dusk to dawn in an ambush on Valentine’s Day, you know army is giving you the red rose.
When you are a master at pump stove, lanterns, solar lights, bukharis and travelling in trains without reservations.
When you know more about cramps and cold injuries than your average doctor.
When a girl in the pub is indicated by clock-ray method.
When only your sahayak can dig out the thing you want from your rucksack.
When your pain submits to your will.
When you find it funny when your relative says he’s going on a holiday to a hill station.
When your profession is a matter of discussion during marriage proposals.
When you do not believe in ghosts but do believe in Peer Baba and other high altitude babas.
When you know the real meaning of camouflage, in field, in parties, in unit routine and in your own house.
When you can live, anywhere, with anybody, on anything that nature can offer.
When you know this LMG will be re-sited by everybody up the ladder, till it comes back to where you had sited it initially.
When somebody asks, “Do you play Golf?” and you look at the brass on your shoulder and say “Not yet!”
When you are the biggest consumer of foot powder, DMP oil, water sterilization kit, ORS packets and Meals Ready to Eat in the Army.
When you gave it all that you have got, and some more.
When you are the only one to get trained in bayonet fighting. And expect it to happen.
When your girlfriend thinks you are Rambo, Commando, Gladiator and Braveheart, all rolled into one. Your Commanding Officer, by the way, thinks you are none.
When the Politician and the Bureaucrat state, “what is so special about the ARMY”, without realizing that an Army-man can do their job, better then them, but they cannot do an Army-man’s job and it is the the same Army-man who bails them out whenever they fail
When you get lost in a multiplex with signboards but are at ease in a jungle with a compass.
When you can die for, what you have lived for.
That’s the great INDIAN ARMY…..People call it ARMY, We call it LIFE.