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Rajkumari Shrinagesh’s 99th birthday party will stay etched in her memory, thanks to a surprise packed by the Indian Army.
The wife of the army’s third Indian chief, late General SM Shrinagesh, was overwhelmed when three serving generals from her husband’s regiment walked into her Gurgaon flat on Sunday, opening the floodgates of emotions and memories for the nonagenarian.
Her eyes lit up as pipers from the Kumaon regimental band belted out some nostalgia-stirring tunes for the army’s grand old lady. Leaning forward from her wheelchair, she clapped her hands. And then, she broke down.
“This has been an incredible flashback to my army days. I am still married…to the army,” she said.
Shrinagesh, who passed away in 1977, was the army chief from May 1955 to May 1957. The general’s pictures adorn every wall of her home. She has donated his personal effects to the Kumaon Regimental Centre in Ranikhet.
Her granddaughter Ritu Singh said, “The best gift you can give someone is great memories. The army just did that.”
Army’s quarter master general Lieutenant General Om Prakash, additional director general (public information) Major General Bobby Mathews and National Security Guard IG (operations) Major General BS Das --- all from Kumaon Regiment --- showed up at the party.
General Om Prakash, the senior-most officer from Kumaon Regiment, said, “Age has not withered her charm and poise. She’s a link to our glorious past. It’s a privilege to be here.”
The onslaught of time has not dulled the lady’s faculties, and certainly not her wit.
She recalled how General Shrinagesh did not talk to her for a month after Pandit Nehru tapped her knee during a conversation. “He was extremely possessive. I asked him to keep me in a glass cabinet,” she said.
Army chief General Bikram Singh and his wife Bubbles sent her a bottle of champagne, flowers, a card and a cake that read “from all officers of YOUR army.”