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The word ‘father’ may conjure an image of a man, but in reality, it is a concept that can mean different things to different people. Anybody who stands by you, guards and protects you can be akin to a father, and that person need not necessarily be a man. And this is beautifully expressed by an ex-air force pilot who shared his story with the Humans of Bombay, and revealed how his wife stood by him and took care of his children when he was away. He met her in 1967 and within days he knew she was the one he was meant to be with. After an almost fairy tale romance, they got married. And after that, she stood by him like a rock, even when he was away fulfilling his duty for the nation. “Everything I am today, I owe to my wife. While I was away, which was for the most part of the year she was a mother and a father to our children,” he wrote. “She constantly lived in the fear of losing her husband, but she put my dreams before her fears…So really, I mean it when I say that I am because of her. I love my children, it has been an honour for me to be their father, but today, I’d like to wish my wife, ‘Happy Father’s Day’ and thank her for everything she’s done for us,” he added. People are loving his heartwarming story and his post has over 6,000 likes and over 400 shares, at the time of writing.
“My family and I migrated to Rajasthan from Pakistan in 1947. Although I was only 5 years old back then…I remember the sights of rioting to this day. Everything was in turmoil and we stayed on the platform, while the elders went to look for a place to rent and work for us to survive. Things eventually settled and I completed my schooling in Jodhpur.
The most beautiful part of growing up in Jodhpur was watching the aircrafts fly low over us throughout the day because Jodhpur had an Indian Air Force base. Having seen my country being ripped apart through partition and feeling so passionately about aircrafts and flying… my biggest dream growing up, was to join the Indian Airforce. It has been my biggest privilege that I got to live that dream— I served as a fighter pilot in the Indian Army for 25 years. The first war I fought was in 1965 against Pakistan and I remember flying over the border, saving our soldiers and thanking God that he chose me to serve the bravest men India will ever see— our Jawans.
I was a bachelor during these initial years but my life changed for the second time when I met my wife in 1967 at a badminton court in Halwara. She was the daughter of a Senior Accountant Officer and I remember my friend telling me – ‘Sardarni Hein, Lambi Hein — Ja ke Baat Kar!’ Back then we were all so shy, but I liked her so much, that the next day I took a tin of Ladoos for her family who stayed in Ludhiana. I made up an excuse that I was just passing by, but her father who knew me from the army, invited me over for dinner the next day. I exchanged very few words with her, but I knew that she was the one for me in these initial few meetings. Soon after, she left for hostel in Chandigarh, but I used to write her letters and whenever I got the chance, I would drive for 2 and a half hours on my bike to see her for half an hour! One of the fondest memories I have during this time is when I drove down to see her, took her for lunch to Shimla and then dropped her back… it was so innocent, so pure.
We waited for her to finish her education and then got married, and that’s when war took a different meaning for me. Whether it was the war in 85-86 or the Kargil war, I knew my wife and children were waiting back home for me. The only way I communicated with them was through letters or an odd phone call, but as much as possible I would try and focus the conversation on my children, their progress at school and my wife. I was sometimes in -30 degrees, flying over the border with bullets and bombs all around me…but not once did my family ask me to give it up — they knew what it meant to me to fly…to serve my country.
Everything I am today, I owe to my wife. While I was away, which was for most part of the year she was a mother and a father to our children. We used to go long months without seeing each other, but she always put on a smile and took care of everything. She constantly lived in the fear of losing her husband, but she put my dreams before her fears. Even when I retired but continued to serve as senior pilot at the Pawan Hans, she supported me and my passion to fly without question. So really, I mean it when I say that I am because of her. I love my children, it has been an honour for me to be their father, but today, I’d like to wish my wife, ‘Happy Father’s Day’ and thank her for everything she’s done for us.”