“For Major, India always came first!”

“I was travelling on a train with my great aunt from Jabalpur in 1995, when I locked eyes with Major Padmapani– he had a commanding presence. He was helping passengers; I was smitten. When he caught me blushing, my heart skipped a beat.

Major found a way to sit near me and read a book. And after my aunt fell asleep, we spoke and spent the night looking into each other's eyes. When we arrived at our destination, I noticed that Major had left his book behind– I found his number inside!

As soon as I got home, I called him and excitedly said, ‘Hi, Major, it’s Charu from the train!' but his mother answered! She said– ‘Padmapani can’t stop gushing about you!’ I was delighted– soon after, our families met and agreed to our marriage.

Major and I spoke different languages, so I learnt Hindi for him. He was romantic too–while he was away he’d make his sister buy me nail polish. He often surprised me by coming home early; I’d fall more in love everytime.

And after 3 years, I got pregnant…he was so excited! But duty called him to the Kargil War–for Major, India always came first. He didn’t tell me the real reason for leaving; he just embraced me at the station and said, ‘I’ll be back to take care of our family.’

From Kargil, he’d write me letters. Everyday, I would await the postman! In his letters, he’d say, ‘Charu, I miss you. Look after our baby; I can’t wait to hold both of you!’ When I finally realised he was in Kargil, I was anxious. Still, Major always sounded positive.

But one unfortunate morning, around 10:30 AM, my in-laws sat me down. They said, ‘Padmapani sacrificed his life in the war.’ I was heartbroken. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be proud that my husband was a martyr or feel sad that I was a widow. I thought, ‘What am I going to tell our child?’

For weeks, I’d imagine Major holding our child and cry. But I knew I had to pull through for our baby. And 3 months after the war, I gave birth to a girl. She looked exactly like Major and I knew then that he’d live on through our daughter.

Major’s parents offered to remarry me, but I declined, ‘Major gave me the best moments of my life; I will honor his legacy.’ I stayed with my in-laws and ran my own business. I even built a team to provide emotional support to families that lost loved ones in war.

I often talk about Major to our daughter who loves listening to stories of her dad. And on our anniversary, I cook his favorite idli, sambar, dosa!

I often talk about Major to our daughter who loves listening to stories of her dad. And on our anniversary, I cook his favorite idli, sambar, dosa!

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