SajanSpeaks

Thoughts that originate deep within

The Closure: A Mother’s Dream!

How would you feel if you were a Mother who loses her only son at his prime age of 21, and then be unable to be present for his last rites and never be able to visit her son’s grave for a lifetime? Some pains can be forgotten, some forgiven, but for Mrs. Thressiamma Joseph from Kerala, this one riled her for over 25 years.

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The Indian Military Academy, Dehradun

Unknown to this pain, a course of Army Officers get together to celebrate their 25 years of passing out from the Indian Military Academy. Their plans to meet up in Dehradun are being worked out. Will it be possible to gather all the mates after a gap of 25 years? How many will turn up finally?

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2Lt E Thomas Joseph

Jun 1992, somewhere in the North East.  2Lt ET Joseph is looking forward to catch the train in a day to go back to his hometown on leave cum posting. His posting order had come few weeks ago from the Gorkha Battalion that was his home for over a year. Though  commissioned to Army Intelligence Corps a year back, he felt at home in the paltan that he was serving now. He was dined out from the Unit the previous day and had been stuck off strength.

The officers are relaxing in the Mess, suddenly they receive reports of some terrorist movement. The unit is tasked to neutralize them. The CO gets his Quick Reaction Team together. 2Lt ET Joseph knew the terrain well. He volunteers to go with the team for the operation at night so that he could be back by early morning to catch the first convoy out. The others asked him to chill. But ET feels that he should join the boys in the operation. He has time till the morning to get back. Unknown to many, God had other plans…..2Lt E Thomas Joseph lays down his life for the nation in the firefight that night.

Far away in Shillong, the next day, another serving soldier, Sub Maj AT Joseph, is preparing for his dining out in the JCO’s Mess. He is looking forward to reaching Bangalore, his next posting station. As he reaches the JCO Mess, he receives the news. Heartbroken and devastated Sub Maj Joseph leaves for Nagaland accompanied by two of his colleagues. They reach the temporary camp location on the 3rd day after the death of his only son. The mortal remains of brave heart 2Lt ET Joseph are laid to rest in his father’s presence.  Due to poor connectivity those days, it is not possible to transport the body to the soldier’s hometown. ET’s father leaves the place within two hours of burial at the Army cemetery. He is terribly broken due to the unimaginable grief of losing his son. He is in a state of shock.

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The Grave – 1992

When the news of the loss reaches Mrs. Thressiamma Joseph, she and her two daughters are inconsolable. Sub Maj AT Josephis unable to come to terms with the biggest loss in his life and on his request, gets his retirement sanctioned from Indian Army. He comes back to his family in Kerala the same year. He does his best to educate his two daughters, ensure the family lives decently, over the years he gets his daughters married. The husband and wife then look towards the twilight in their lives.

Deep down, both Joseph and his wife Thressiamma try their best to overcome their grief. But a sadness that had no closure couldn’t be overcome. The mother in Thressiamma, longs to visit the burial place. But they are unable to afford the long journey. Where would they gather that kind of money? How would they travel thousands of miles? Who would know the place? Who would help them? With old age catching up, the hope just fades away. They hope to meet their son at God’s abode one day.

New Delhi: Feb 2016 – Jun 2016: The plans for a big bash for the 88th Regular and 71st Technical Course to celebrate 25th year of service to the nation gets underway. The core team gather information of all the officers who had stepped out from Indian Military Academy on 08 Jun 1991. Slowly the number of officers and families who agree to travel to Dehradun increase. The show is getting bigger and better each passing day, as news of some buddy who had lost touch trickles in. Amidst all the plans to make the reunion memorable, one evening Vikram Gill one of the leading organizers of the event, calls up Sajan and says “We have to remember and honour those who have fallen amongst us. We have to make their families proud”. They decide to design an apt memento for each next of kin (NOK) of the Martyrs, invite and felicitate them.

Vikram then sets out to find out the addresses of the NOK of Martyrs, who had laid down their lives at various points. His tireless efforts, reveal to him, a list of 19 brave hearts. 2Lt E Thomas Joseph is first in that list. A memento is made for each NOK of the Martyr. Their families are contacted and invited to join the celebrations at Dehradun. However Sub Maj AT Joseph and Thressiamma could not be contacted as they had shifted from their address.

Eight Veer Naaris, Brothers and Sisters of Martyrs, travel from far and wide including Australia and take part in the three day celebrations in the last week of June 2016, where over 140 officers, nearly 100 ladies and over 100 children attend with full gusto.

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88 Reg/71 Tech Course Silver Jubilee Celebration : IMA, Dehradun

The events aptly commence with felicitation of the Veer Naris and NOK of the Martyrs. A film painstakingly made by Anirban & Jacob is screened which brings  memories of yesteryear’s spent with these brave hearts. The course together has won 1 Ashok Chakra, 2 Kirti Chakras, 6 Shaurya Chakras, 2 Yudh Seva Medal, 32 Sena Medal Gallantry, 8 Sena Medal Distinguished, 7 Vishisht Seva Medal, 5 Mention in Dispatches. Truly we are among the bravest ones. The celebrations are great, well planned and heart touching. Bonding is amazing meeting up with buddies who are reuniting after a gap of 25 years. The Veer Naris who attend feel honoured and thankful to the course for the great gesture. Vikram requests the memento’s be personally handed over to the NOKs who could not attend. The responsibility to hand over ET Joseph’s memento rests on the shoulder’s of Shamsher who is posted at Kochi.

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88 Regular-71 tech Course Indian Military Academy on 24 Jun 2016

Shamsher searches for ET’s parents. The address he had is old. One rainy day in

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Shamsher handing over the memento to ET Joseph’s proud parents

Kerala lady luck finally smiles when he locates Sub Maj AT Joseph’s humble abode near Kottayam. He reaches there and presents the memento to the proud parents. The fact that their son was still being remembered and honoured by his buddies even after 25 years really makes the parents extremely happy. Over a cup of coffee, Thressiamma, pours her heart. She talks about her unfulfilled dream of making a trip to the North East and pray near her son’s grave.

Shamsher returns to Kochi and  informs the course in their social group the need to help a mother to fulfill her long standing dream. A decision is taken that the course will rise to the occasion. The hurdles are many. The old age of the parents, the finances, the long travel, and most of all…..to find the location of the grave. A quarter of century has passed and the knowledge of the event has faded. Not much is known.

Robi who is posted in the North East volunteers to search for the grave. His efforts each day results in despondency. Then one fine day ‘Eureka’, the grave is located. It is dilapidated.  So a new dimension is added to the long list of pending tasks. How to get the grave restored?

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The Grave- 2016

Egged on by Shamsher, the course contributions starts pouring in. Course mates of E Thomas Joseph, from Army, Navy and Air Force, from 78 NDA Course and 88 Regular/71 Tech Course rise to the occasion. As I write this, the figure has crossed Rs 2,30,000.

Indigo Airlines Salute to the Martyr. A course mate working with Indigo Airlines, contacts their Management, who on hearing the story straightaway agree to sponsor the travel of the parents and sisters from Kochi- Bangalore- Kolkatta- Dimapur through Indigo airlines. The tickets sponsored  by Indigo for Sub Maj AT Joseph , Thressiamma and two sisters are already with the parents. This is an extraordinary gesture by the airline and goes a long way in giving it back to the nation in their own way. Kudos to Team Indigo for showing a unique way to the country, how to show gratitude and salute its heroes!

Course mates in various places are arranging stay at all these places. The grave is being done up. Permission is being sought from various authorities to ensure the visit goes on without any hassles. The Army will also play a part to ensure the visit goes well. A Senior Officer in the rank of Army Commander has assured all help.

78 NDA & 88 Regular/ 71 Tech courses are unique. ET’s parents lost one son but got back 300+. Each of the sons are striving hard to ensure the trip goes smooth. Vikram Chauhan in Delhi, Robi in North East, Shamsher in Kochi, Manoj with Indigo, RN at Kolkatta, Atul Salunkhe, Lalli Virk, Sanjay Tripathi, Viju Sundaresh, Joseph George and many others are working tirelessly to make The Closure. This journey also reveals the kind of passion the service officers work with qualities like Camaraderie, Regimentation, Sacrifice, Selflessness, Espirit-de-Corps, Bonhomie, Commitment and Friendship which all were the essence of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations.

The trip is planned for October 2016. Cheers to this Band of Brothers, and to Indigo Airlines who have magnanimously chipped in!

A mother’s dream is about to be fulfilled! Await this space for more on this journey…

Post Script:

Kerala’s No 1 News Channel has picked up this story. You can watch the news clipping here

Indian Express publishes  this story in all India editions on 03 Aug . The online link is here

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87 thoughts on “The Closure: A Mother’s Dream!

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  1. Poonam Chauhan on said:

    ” The Closure “A mother’s dream.,is an overwhelming narration of the efforts made by this special 88and 71regular and technical courses. It’s overwhelming. A great effort and an unforgettable objective achieved in the history of the great defence institution. You guys have immortalised yourselves in the lives of the Josephs. Nothing could have made them more happy than what all of you have done. Hats off to the entire course . Such things can only be done by our bravehearts.

    Like

  2. Brig KS Verma on said:

    78th NDA/88th IMA from an old fogie 30th NDA/39th IMA (those days the difference was nine). Number of times different people crib “NDA no longer the same, IMA and Services gone to dogs, not as good as it was there in our time.” Your course unity of purpose and spirit towards a fallen comrade worthy of highest commendation. You all have proven the “in our time” snobs totally wrong and that nothing has changed, NDA, IMA, other Service Academies and Armed Forces as a whole are still the same, the finest organisation in the Country. I, on behalf of my Course would like to salute 78th NDA/88th IMA for setting such a fine example of what these institutions stand for. Keep it up guys, well done. 78/88 UP UP!!, Brig KS Verma, Veteran.

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  3. This is FAUJI INDIA magazine (https://faujimagazine.blogspot.in), we would like to carry this article in the mag’s Oct issue. Please get in touch with us on our email – faujimagazine@gmail.com to seek your kind permission and sharing high res pix.

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  4. Colonel K Thammayya Udupa (Retired) on said:

    This post of yours came to me from each of the three fauj related Whatsapp groups that I am a member of, almost within seconds of each other.

    I read it once at 5.10 AM this morning. It kept ringing in my mind when I was on my morning run thereafter.

    I read it again soon after getting back from my run.

    I read it a third time before leaving home for work.

    The first thing I did after reaching office, was to e-mail the post to all my colleagues and forwarded the Whatsapp version to an army of friends, relatives and acquaintances.

    I then read the post once again and then chanced upon this blog page which even has the photos of all the dramatis personae.

    I cannot remember any other write-up of recent times which has touched my heart so deeply.

    My heart goes out to 2Lt Thomas Joseph. I salute him for his devotion to duty and his supreme sacrifice.My heart goes out to his parents. How I wish I could do something to share their sorrow of losing a brave son.

    I am proud of being a fauji. I am proud of the fauj in which such great gestures as thought of by 78 NDA / 88 IMA / 71 TGC are carried out.

    All the very best.

    With Warm Regards,

    Yours Sincerely,

    Colonel K Thammayya Udupa (Retired)
    (54 TGC, 8th Pl, ‘N’ Coy, IMA)
    Chief Administrative Officer,
    IIM Indore,
    Prabandh Shikhar,
    Rau-Pithampur Road,
    Indore
    453556

    Tele: (Office) +91-731-2439600
    (Residence) +91-731-2439648

    Mobile: +91-9902027826

    ktudupa@gmail.com

    Like

  5. Gurjinder Singh on said:

    Sir hats off to all of you! Very touching and May God bless the departed hero and his family and all our brave soldiers!

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  6. Excellent effort and finally justice done to the old parents of your old course mate & collegue.

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  7. Paulina on said:

    Hats off to the indomitable spirit of the 78NDA/88 IMA/71 TGC!

    Like

  8. Prasannakumari Marar on said:

    Excellent, difficult to explain in words

    Like

  9. Srinivasan on said:

    An amazing Real life story which would touch anyone deep in the soul. My salute to 78 NDA/ 88 IMA / 71 TGC for this fantastic gesture. As a young veteran it gives me a great sense of satisfaction that the Army that I served in still is made up Officers and Gentlemen in the true sense. Bravo Sajan to all of you.
    Jai Hind

    Lt Col V Srinivasan
    75 IMA

    Like

  10. Major Annamma Mahil on said:

    None but our Armed forces can have such a we feeling, towards their brother officer n did such commendable job. I really feel proud of these great ones who made our forces proud, in which I am also a part .
    Major Annamma Mahil

    Like

  11. Col Umesh Kumar Bhargava on said:

    I first saw the narration of this unforgettable touching saga on what apps of various fauji groups one is member. Then I chance to see your Blog.I too must have read it time and again ,narrated to my wife told my grand children and children about our NDA and great bond which joins us for ever. Yes , we too felt that the old traditions and values were probably not being maintained by newer generations.I have no shame in admitting ,I was wrong. 78 NDA ,88 IMA n TGC have displayed spirit which we all can be proud of .
    Well done you wonderful boys .God bless you all.
    Col Umesh Bhargava
    Eleventh NDA

    Like

  12. Col ks Chaudhry on said:

    Hats off to the work being done by the course mates and Indigo Airlines.
    I wish to know the contribution of the unit.
    Col KS Chaudhry, Retd
    51 Tech
    9313341763
    kscs58@yahoo.com

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  13. Rajesh Sharma on said:

    Great spirit !! Hats off to the course !!

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  14. You brought tears to my eyes. God bless you all for taking on this most difficult task.

    Take care

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  15. What can one say
    There is not a day
    That a mother does not cry
    But today even my eye ia not dry

    Like

  16. Rajiv Williams on said:

    This is absolutely a super display of comraderie and course spirit. I am sure the distant dream of the aged parents will be blessed. Our prayers for them as they venture out and connect the threads.
    Our course 39 NDA / 48 IMA meets every year and this year we leave for Uzbekistan and Russia tomorrow and day after i.e. 3 and 4 September. The message of the blog will find a pride of place at our meet and I think courses need to share such stories and support each other.
    Rgds
    Brig RE Williams (Your Adjt IMA when you passed out)

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  17. Col A Sunder Rrajan on said:

    Salute Lt ET Joseph for his bravery and sacrifice to the nation and his parents for the upbringing that they gave young Joseph and their sacrifice.It is such heroes who courageously and bravely defend our nation and make it great. Kudos to 78 NDA, 88Regular and 71 Technical Courses, for making it happen-Allowing a Brave Mother and Father o Visit their Martyred Son’s Grave after 24 years, hats off to you guys and your course spirit.We know that with Guys like you in the Defence Services, India is in safe hands.God Bless you guys and your families.Good Luck and God Speed Always- Col A Sunder Rajan 46NDA/55 IMA Regular Course

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  18. Col Anupam Jain on said:

    My heart is almost bursting with pride in reading this incredible saga of selfless devotion to duty, the forlorness of parents and the commitment of the course! 78/88 course you guys are true leaders and I feel proud to have passed out from such hallowed institutions as NDA and IMA! Long live the spirit….. Never forget never let go.!

    Like

  19. m sreekiumar on said:

    It is heartening to note that entire course has put in all out efforts to fulfill a grief stricken mothers wish . The entire course desrve accolades for the camaderie exhibited and these examples further strengthen our bondings in uniform and as well as veterans.
    Jai Hind
    Brig M Sreekumar(veteran)
    Signals

    Like

  20. Bindu Cherungath on said:

    Sajan, thank you so much for this real story live. Got goosebumps… Hats off to all the officers who r making family’s dream true. Salute to the Hero who lost his life for our country…

    Like

  21. Rzjesh verma on said:

    A great salute to indian defence spirit.

    Like

  22. Gp Capt Rakesh Nanda on said:

    The path shown by 78NDA and88IMA is worth emulation by all. One rarely comes across an example of this kind inspite of our trg . Institutions teaching us Best wishes to the course. Regards Gp Capt Rakesh Nanda 48|H

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  23. Nanda Datta on said:

    A well written account of an young officer who laid down his life for the Nation . The brave heart sacrificed his life voluntarily as he need not have undertaken the mission as he was already his way out from that unit . The sad story came out to light after a long span of 25 yrs due to the painstaking efforts of his course mates Hats off to the officers of the course , their spirit, love ,bonding & ability could make possible the tough task to find out the parents of the brave heart who changed their abode in course of time and fulfill his mother ‘s desire to visit her son’ grave. Kudo

    s to the 78 NDA & 88 regular/71 Tech courses…their bonding should be an example to the other courses

    Like

  24. Nanda Datta on said:

    Beautifully written article…really tugged at my heartstrings… I am proud to be the mother of one of the officers of this gallant course…for their pains taking efforts the story of a brave heart who sacrificed his life voluntarily at the prime of his youth for the Nation has come to light after a long span of 25 yrs ….

    Like

  25. Wg CD-R Sudhir Virulkar (Retd) on said:

    Very touching efforts by Course mates, a hearty tribute to a Soldier, after 25 yrs, fulfilling the wishes of a great mother. Salute to the departed Soul.
    Thanks and great respect to friends & colleagues for organizing this trip for the entire family to NE. Thanks to Indigo Air line for showing respect to AFs.

    Like

  26. Vrinda Rajendran on said:

    True spirit of camaraderie and empathy reflected in this real life story. Our salutations to the entire fraternity of defence personnel who left no stone unturned to ensure that a mother’s dream remains fulfilled!

    Like

  27. Amritraj Peshin on said:

    Thank you to all of you amazing officer’s

    Like

  28. Lt Cdr PK Dash on said:

    Sir(s), really feel proud to be a part of armed forces seeing the course spirit and more than that the humanity, compassion and passion to honour a martyr displayed by your course.. Also hats off to Indigo Airlines for respecting the sacrifice of a soldier

    Like

  29. Colonel N K Rishi, Retd on said:

    It’ll indeed be an extremely emotional moment for parents and sisters of Lt. Thomas Joseph to visit & pay their tributes to their beloved soul after unimaginable 25 long years. God only knows with how much difficulty this span of 25 years has passed for the bereaved family – for them it must be looking like centuries. How sad that his family could not even have a glance before being laid to rest. Certainly similar were many numerous cases of our martyred soldiers during last three wars, that their Paltan performed their last rites at the battlefields. Surely our countrymen won’t know of such intricacies.
    Our Nation and our politicians / bureaucrats will never value the sacrifices being made by soldiers every day, staying away from their families and staying in hostile environment with absence of even much needed basic facilities. Thanks to their Course that they’ve organised visit of Lt. Joseph’s family to his cemetery.

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