December 10, 2021 6:48:13 am
“Lying on a charpoy and gazing at the night sky, Jitendra always spoke of an aspiration — to fly,” his childhood friend Devenarayan Mewada, 35, recalled, sitting outside Lance Naik Jitendra Kumar Verma’s house in Dhananda village, in Madhya Pradesh’s Sehore district.
For the Vermas, Mewada was more like a family member — he looked after the family in Jitendra’s absence, including withdrawing money sent by their son. The Vermas’ house is one of the few pucca structures recently constructed in Dhananda, 22 km from Sehore city. The walls of the house are decorated with pictures — of Verma as an NCC cadet; a group photo alongside is that of him with his battalion.
The other wall has pictures of his two children.
He is survived by wife Sonu and two children — a daughter, aged four, and son, a year old.
Sitting in the hall of their newly built house, his father Shivraj Verma, 54, said, “He promised to take me on a long trip when he was to come home next on leave.”
“Jitendra had spoken to his wife only a day earlier, informing her that he was to travel,” Shivraj said. A farmer who doubled as a labourer, earning Rs 100 as daily wages, the farthest Shivraj has ever traveled to is Bhopal — to drop off his son.
Jitendra planned on taking his parents to Vaishnodevi, in J&K, when he came home on leave in February next year, family members said.
For the family, this year’s Diwali celebration was special, as Verma, eldest of four siblings and financial backbone of the family of six, was home. His selection to the forces in 2011 came as a great support to the family, which until then was surviving on four acres of farmland, Shivraj said.
“We had a small patch of farm and it wasn’t sufficient, but I made Rs 100 a day, which went to the education of my children. Jitendra was a smart child,” Shivraj said. Jitendra’s cousin, Ramnarayan, added, “He was very smart, so he was posted with such a big man.”
Mewada, who was also preparing to get into armed services but could not make it, said, “Jitendra not only encouraged me but every child in the village – Army mein bahot mazza aata hai woh kehta thha (he used to say Army life was fun.)”
Whenever back home, Verma would visit his school in Dhamanda and college in Amlaha, where he would encourage students to remain fit and play sports, Mewada recalled. “In a village that even today lacks proper roads, Jitendra got a running track made in his senior secondary school in Dhamanda,” he said.
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