This article is in memory of Late Major Dhruv Yadav and every father who has lost his brave son to Mother India.
© Namrata Yadav
In the dark recesses of the night, I look at my son who wriggles in his sleep - partially hungry, partially in discomfort as he has started teething and wonder what it is like to lose a child.
I knew the pain of having lost someone but the pain of losing a child is perhaps unimaginable. It is nature's way and God's plan to take away people to make space for a new life on earth; a loss of life only makes way for new life and that is the absolute cycle of life. But knowing that and acknowledging God's plan I still wonder how you say goodbye to your own child.
I look at my son only to realize, my precious gain could be someone's devastating loss. Thus, in a way, as life continues, I often wonder of nature's harshness and kindness in the same stroke.
Loss can never be compared, but I have often wondered does the honourable death of a young soldier make the pain any less for a uniformed father, after all, wasn't it nature's plan for a son to immerse the ashes of his father and not the other way round? Does watching his body wrapped in the tricolour, while listening to a thousand boots march to show respect to this brave son of India, make the pain any less for an absolutely heartbroken mother?
Is the sound of the bugles intended to be the last lullaby this brave son hears, as his parents lay him to rest? Amid all this pride and honour that this brave son of India bestows on his parents, there is immense pain.
I once saw an old soldier march behind the casket of his young brave son of India and as he lit his pyre - bugles were sounded, a gun salute given to this fallen comrade, the father transformed into a true soldier and saluted his young soldier goodbye. At that moment, it was not a father saying goodbye to his son, it was the soldier within the father saying goodbye to a young fallen comrade, who happened to be his blood. In death and loss, he was no longer his, he was yet again his country's first – the loss compounded once again.
This memory was only to be etched deeper within me, when a few days later on this very father's birthday, he immersed his son's ashes on the banks of the river Ganga. In that final goodbye, before Ma Ganga took this young boy away on his final journey having defied the circle of life as nature intended, the flowers among his ashes touched his father's feet as if to take his blessings one last time, draw strength from his father as he took those very last steps and made his final journey into the afterlife. At that moment, I saw what nature intended - a relationship in its purest form of a 'father and son'.
I sit at the edge of my son's cot looking at him, imagining the joy I may feel when he takes his first steps, only to think of this father who helped his son take his last...
Namrata Yadav graduated with a joint Masters degree in Law and Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, UK and currently works as a freelance consultant in New Delhi. She is the sister of Late Major Dhruv Yadav's who was killed in the line of duty in September 2015.