Son’s regret: Couldn’t say goodbye to Brigadier Mehta
Flight Lieutenant Udit Mehta, 24, will live with one regret. Sleeping till late on Monday morning, the fighter pilot could not bid a final goodbye to his father Brigadier RD Mehta, India’s defence attaché to Afghanistan, killed in a gruesome suicide attack in Kabul. Talking to HT after lighting his father’s pyre, he said, “I was sleeping when he left for office. I will always harbour this regret.”
Udit and his father went for a game of squash on Sunday morning. Even at 52, Brigadier Mehta had Udit scurrying around the court. But the officer, cremated here with military honours on Tuesday, gave the game away to make his son feel good about himself.
“He would often deliberately let me win. He was my hero and I have chosen to remember him the way he lived and not how he died,” said Udit, with mother Sunita by his side, clutching Mehta’s service peak cap.
The Mehtas were planning to picnic at valleys around Kabul this week, but fate ordained otherwise. Here stood Udit at the Brar Square cremation ground — hands folded in the drizzle, head bowed, silently accepting condolences from the military’s top brass, his father’s colleagues and war veterans.
In what was a perfect tribute to a gallant soldier, who returned home draped in the Tricolour, not once did the Mehta family let his grief overcome them. “Dad has made the country proud,” Udit said. Indeed, Brigadier Mehta has bequeathed Udit with eternal pride — the best of all legacies.