Tribute to Neerja Bhanot


Today as I write this diary entry, as She always wanted me to write, my heart aches at the fact that you are not here to read it and appreciate me for my venture.. I still remember all the times when she made me a proud mother and today I write this to make Her proud of me:

Since her childhood, I could see the spark in her eyes. The spark of an over achiever. She had it in her.

I still remember how happy she had been in her life at that time. After her failed marriage, my pretty child had got her moments of happiness. I thought the storm had gone. Little did I know, it was but just the beginning.

 “Mumma, I promise you that one day you will be really proud of me”, my 12 year Neerja had said clutching to me once. I almost hear these words in her voice as I write this. Proud I am though, but not at this price. Yes, as an Indian, my chest broadens but what about a mother?  It’s torn into pieces. Which mother would want that? What’s the purpose of being proud when I don’t have my little baby to kiss for her success?

My baby was like a baby herself. Even as a 22 year old grown up, her heart was of a child. It’s even painful that she left us 2 days before her 23rd birthday. She had been quite excited about it. She had planned an entire day with her family and friends. She planned so much. I can’t hold myself from breaking down at times when I recollect the grins she gave when it was about going to parties, specially her own.

 But I never knew that she was so mature, so brave, that she chose to save the life of kids, instead of her own.

I remember the fateful day her flight was scheduled; I see that playing in front of my eyes several times. She never considered any job as big or small and was proud as being the senior ‘purser’ on that Pan am flight, even though she went to be an attendant. She had asked me for my blessings and gave me the tightest hug.

Oh, I wish I could had stopped those moments for a life time and never let go of her from that embrace! Or I could have some supernatural powers to live that hug again, had I known they will be my last moments with her.

Neerja, Papa is equally proud of you beta. He knew the very instant that you will not stand something unfair, when he got a call about the hijack of your plane while he was in his conference, even if it meant to get your own self in trouble.

Our life has never been the safe since the day you have left me.

All those awards and that asoka chakra that hangs  in our hall makes us imagine you with it, smiling cheerfully and saying, “I had promised you na?”

I know you’re with me as I write all this now. I can feel you standing next to me. This chilly gush of winds out of nowhere can make me feel of your presence. I smell your perfume at random times. I see you in my dreams every day.

 I have stopped crying, but my hopes of seeing you again have not. I know you miss Mumma. I know you have lost your way, but you will find it eventually. I trust you on this.

I know you will be back soon, for one final embrace. Our ladoo, you’ve died a hero, we salute you.