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Guest column: A daughter’s yearning for her father

After she has become a part of our family, our second daughter, we have tried our best to ensure she does not feel the loss of her beloved father.

punjab Updated: Jun 16, 2018 23:32 IST
Col RD Singh (retd)
Col RD Singh (retd)
Hindustan Times
The writer with his daughter-in-law with the statue of a Gorkha Soldier.

Our daughter-in-law Shrishti Singh, who married our son over a year back, had always wanted to visit Subathu in Himachal Pradesh to pay tributes to her late father, Col Lallan Singh, Sena Medal (4/4 Gorkha Rifles). He had been deputy commandant of the 14 Gurkha Training Centre (14 GTC) in 1996 – 97 there and had passed away in 2010 when Shrishti was just 19.

After Shrishti has become a part of our family, our second daughter, we have tried our best to ensure she does not feel the loss of her beloved father. A few days ago, however, we realised it would be wonderful if she found a nice way to remember him.

That was when we decided to tie up with 14 GTC and on May 9 this year headed for Subathu by car.

What an emotional and nostalgic visit it was! All four of us ( my wife and I, our son and Shrishti) drove to the picturesque town to be warmly received at the spick and span GTC .

The first thing she wanted to do was to visit the house they lived in 22 years back, when she was in Class 2. So, accompanied by an officer, we went to the hilltop house. Thankfully, an officer’s family was still living there and as the lady of the house welcomed us warmly, Shrishti ran around the house like a child, absorbing each detail. “Papa, this was my toy room. Oh, here is the kitchen garden, and where are those rose beds?” she went on , taking photographs.

Then, a trip to her school was made. It was still there, much improved, and now used as a ‘Women’s empowerment centre’. Happy to see the building well maintained and used for welfare work, Shrishti saw her classroom and remembered her teacher who had taught her so lovingly.

Then we headed for the Museum, which showcases history and the heroes of 14 GTC, including Shrishti’s father who had been awarded the Sena Medal as a major for bravery in fighting militancy in the northeast.

Standing next to the framed portrait of late Col Lallan Singh, Shrishti and all of us felt very proud.

A tour of the centre followed and we got a chance to admire the sports complex, stadium, and the office of the deputy commandant, a position that her father had occupied. “ Papa, let’s go to the Jungle Trail ( tiger’s path)”, she suggested. Soon we were on a trek, encircling a hill, where she had walked as a child with her father, holding his finger.

As she started reliving those beautiful childhood memories, we all became a part of her journey.

Soon, we stopped over at the spacious, well kept and serene temple. Panditji was very happy to see the daughter of their old soldier, and blessed her. We made our offerings and thanked God for his kindness.

Our last destination was the officers’ mess. Here we met mess havildar Dheeraj Gurung, who was a recruit when Shrishti’s father was the deputy commandant. He started talking to Shrishti in Gurkhali, addressing her as ‘ didi’ (elder sister). Initially thinking she would not understand the language, I was surprised to hear her respond to him in the same language. Seeing the two reminiscing over her father’s tenure, other mess staff too joined in. It was such an emotional moment, I could not hold back my tears and moved away for a minute to recollect my thoughts: Here she was, a daughter, remembering her loving and brave father, who was blessing her from heaven.

Shrishti also told them about her elder brother, who joined his father’s battalion and is today posted in the Valley. It is so good that the rich legacy of the upright soul is being carried forward by his son.

After enjoying the wonderful lunch served with much warmth and respect, we left for home after presenting a token of our love and gratitude to the commandant and all ranks of the elite 14 GTC.

All four of us felt happy, our souls filled with gratitude. As Shrishti’s parents, Madhu and I were delighted to see a smile of fulfilment on our daughter’s face.

The writer can be contacted at ripu_d2003@yahoo.co.in

First Published: Jun 16, 2018 23:32 IST