Major Kumud Dogra, donning her crisp uniform, marches forward. This is perhaps of one of the saddest moments of her life – as she pays homage to her martyred husband, Wing Commander Dushyant Vats.
But she isn’t alone. Bundled in her arms is her 5-day baby, one who never had the chance to see her father alive. This picture of Major Kumud Dogra, walking to her husband’s funeral with her baby in her arms, has taken the internet by storm.
It is difficult to imagine how one can have the courage to shield themselves and not break down in the final moments of losing their dear ones.
The courage, resilience and indomitable spirit of the army woman, while bidding her husband goodbye, has inspired many.
Kumud had only recovered from the pain of labour a few days ago, when the tragic news arrived – her IAF pilot husband, Wing Commander D Vats, was killed in a microlight helicopter crash near Sumoimari village in Assam on 15th Feb 2018.
The tragedy took place when Wing Commander D Vats, and commander J. James were on their way to Majuli. The aircraft took off from the Jorhat airbase on a routine recce. When the pilots attempted an emergency landing, it crashed at a sandbar and was found burnt beyond recognition.
Kumud did not let her grief overpower her sense of responsibility towards her late husband and her newborn daughter. She paid her final respects not only as a widow of a man she loved dearly. But also as defence personnel honouring the death of a fellow officer, who died on duty.
She is a shining example among other courageous defence widows, who were brave in the face of overwhelming tragedy.
When Colonel Santosh Mahadik, a commanding officer of the 41 Rashtriya Rifles, died fighting terrorists in Kupwara, Kashmir in November 2015, his wife, Swati Mahadik, decided to honour her martyred husband by joining the army to serve the country. Her decision stunned many, but her resolve was unwavering.
Similarly, Neeta Deswal, wife of Late Major Amit Deswal, as a tribute to her husband who lost his life in an insurgency operation in Manipur joined the Army.
Sangeeta Mal, whose husband, a rifleman with the Indian Armed Forces, Shishir Mal was martyred in September 2015 during Operation Rakshak in Kashmir, slipped into severe depression. But her family’s support renewed her will to live again. Three years post her hisband’s death, Sangeeta cleared the Short Service Commission (SSC) examintaion and joined the Officers Training Academy in Chennai. She’d be one of the first members from the family to assume charge as a Lieutenant.
The stories of these courageous women reiterate that women don’t give up. They face grief and loss and turn their lives around.
These strength of these exemplary women reminds of a beautiful quote by Matt Baker,
“She never seemed shattered to me; she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she’s won.”
We salute their spirit!