Friday, March 5, 2010

For Manu Akhouri? No, for us all.

Just one look at the photo above and you could pass it off as your brother, friend, classmate, the flirt, the son or any other individual, whom you met or connected with at some point of your life. Would you believe that this dude, Manu Akhouri is no more? Would you in your wildest dreams believe that he sacrificed his life to save a whole village in Punjab from the fatal MiG-21 crash. Flt. Lt. Manu Akhouri would have celebrated his 26th birthday with family & friends on 21st February, had he chosen to be just another bloke, auditioning for MTV Roadies & other such.

He made a choice to fly. Better still, to fly for his country. His passion for flying since childhood brought him face to face with a situation where he could choose to jump out of the 'flying coffin' and save his skin or maneuver it to a place where no lives would be lost. He made a choice of saving a village full of people and not many of us have even heard of him. Not even me.

A brother of mine is in the Indian Navy & from him I learnt about this braveheart. The more I found out, the more I bonded with this departed soul. I could see myself, my brother, my friend, all of us, in Manu. Like us, he chose to chase his passion. He chose to live his dream. Best part is that he made it, while he was still alive. It's very sad that now he will be missed & mourned by his family & close friends, while the rest of us lead our lives, entirely oblivious to the countless sacrifices made by thousands of jawans, brave soldiers who also had that option to be just another face in the crowd & die like one.

I write this post, deeply moved, by the sacrifices made by all the Manus who forego their own lives for the larger good of the country. As a writer & an aspiring filmmaker, I pledge to bring to light some of the stories (if not all) of those who are now no more, while they were ensuring our nation's security in adverse situations. Let these martyrs be remembered, let us show some respect, shed some tears, light some candles, pray for their souls' peace. Not just for Manu Akhouri, but for us all, as we are alive because of them.

Bro, Manu Akhouri, may your soul rest in peace. Amen.