At the National War Memorial in Pune this Sunday, a huge crowd of friends, family and strangers gathered to pay their last respects to Major Sashidhar Nair. The 33-year-old officer had been on patrol near the LoC in Nowshera when an IED laid down by terrorists exploded. Major Nair was martyred in the line of duty.
At the crematorium, as Major Nair was laid to rest with full military honours, his wife Trupti sat numb in her wheelchair. Major Nair, or Sashi as he was fondly called, had returned to Kashmir only 10 days ago after a month-long leave in Pune.
Trupti and Sashi had been married for three years but their love story was legendary in army circles. They had met through mutual friends in Pune. She was a 26-year-old with a Masters in Computer Application, while he was a 27-year-old Captain. It was love at first sight and the two were engaged in six months.
But then came a moment that would not just test Sashi and Trupti's young love but also the Major’s strength of character.
Eight months into their engagement, Trupti was diagnosed with multiple arteriosclerosis, which drastically reduced her movement and put her in a wheelchair. Some concerned friends asked Major Nair to call off the engagement but he refused. He had made a commitment and he would keep it. In 2012, he married Trupti.
Things, however, were not easy. After the wedding, Trupti suffered another stroke that paralysed her below the waist. She was unable to walk but the young couple never missed a party. In Gandhinagar and then CME, Pune, Major Nair would often be seen wheeling in his wife or chivalrously carrying her if required. The Army operates as a family and Trupti fitted right in. Pitying glances soon gave way to adoration and respect.
Sashi's posting to Kashmir was a constant worry for Trupti. But every time they spoke, he promised he would be back soon. After all, there was a future to look forward to. In March, he would be promoted to Lt Colonel and in September, he would write his Staff College Exam. In October, he and Trupti would move to Binaguri with his unit 2/1 GR.
On January 2, Major Nair waved goodbye to Trupti with the promise that he would be back soon. He kept his promise, but not in a way Trupti had imagined.
Major Nair came home wrapped in the tricolour. He had kept his promise to his wife. He had kept his promise to his motherland.