February 18, 2010 2:29:45 am
Laxmi Thapa has shut herself up ever since the body of her husband Suraj Bahadur,slain by Maoists at the Silda Eastern Frontier Rifles camp,reached home and last rites were performed according to Nepali custom.
When The Indian Express reached her modest home by the railway tracks near Kharagpur,to hand over her husbands bullet-ridden diary that contained notes he wrote to her while away from home,a group of relatives outside said she was not allowed to meet anyone. She would not speak for the next 13 days,they said,as per Nepali customs.
The diary captures Suraj Bahadurs love for Laxmi,his son and daughter and also his patriotism.
Laxmi last spoke to her husband over the phone around 4 pm on Monday,about an hour before the Maoist strike on Silda camp,according to Mukti Singh,a neighbour and Laxmis closest friend. They spoke for fairly long as telephone was the only link when Suraj was away on duty. Suraj also spoke to their daughter Isha.
Around 7 pm,Laxmi called Suraj again but this time she could not get through despite repeated attempts.
Laxmi kept on trying him frantically. She came to me and said she is sensing something ominous. It has never happened. I tried to pacify her saying there must be some problem in the network. I asked her to go to sleep,but she was awake and soon EFR men reached her house to tell that Suraj Bahadur was no more, Mukti said. She was inconsolable and would not believe. Next morning the coffin came.
Suraj and Laxmi were childhood friends who fell in love and got married. It is difficult for Laxmi to absorb the shock. They were literally inseparable, Mukti said.
Suraj was the sole bread-winner for his wife and children,and also his siblings. After his father Balbahadur Thapa,a retired employee of IIT-Kharagpur,suffered a paralytic stroke,Suraj,a Class X passout,took over the responsibility of his family. This included the education of his two younger brothers and the marriage of four sisters,said Barun Das,an IIT employee and a friend.
Suraj wanted his children to be well-educated. So despite hardship,he got his son Rohan admitted in DAB Model School. Rohan is now in Class IV and his sister Isha is in nursery, said Das.
Some distance away,at the EFR residential complex,one comes across similar stories of grieving families. Sona Subba,wife of slain policeman Madhukar Subba,has fainted several times,unable to take the shock.
Son Hariprasad Subba said: My father was trying to get leave for a few days and come home. But his seniors did not allow him to go. For the past few days,he had been calling us over the phone repeatedly and said he wanted to see us. He was missing us.
Madhukars body arrived home in a coffin on Wednesday.
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