ALL FOR VALOUR
"As I entered our house, I saw a huge crowd in our courtyard. There were hundreds of questions looming in my head, when I saw my mother-in-law lying unconscious. My elder brother-in law then informed me that there had been a terrorist attack in Tripura, but they were still not sure whether my husband had lost his life. After that I do not remember clearly, as the news was such a shock that I fainted. I was seven months pregnant at that time."
Sipahi Buddheswar Nath of Pat Kumoi in Morigaon District of Assam was in Tripura when he lost his life fighting terrorists on December 28, 2004. He was posted in 119 Assam Infantry Battalion (TA) and was about to be promoted when he fell to terrorist bullets. His wife Nirmali Nath shares with Melange memories of her late husband.
Sipahi Buddheswar Nath was the eldest son of his family. At the time of his demise, he left behind his three-year-old daughter and his wife who was seven months pregnant. He had two younger brothers and two younger sisters and his parents when he died. He died while on duty, in a gunfight with the terrorists. His wife recounts that along with him, nine other personnel were also killed in the attack.
Nirmali Nath narrates the events of the day when she received news of her husband's death: "I was at my mother's place when the incident occurred. On that fateful day when the family received the news, my in-law's family sent my uncle's son to pick me up urgently. I was surprised as to why he had come to pick me up so hurriedly. Without asking any questions I left with my brother and my 3-year-old daughter. On the way, I was talking with him about my husband as to how he was planning to buy a bike, when he would come home in January. But my brother was not responding to anything that I was saying. This came as a surprise to me, as I saw him crying. Even though I asked him why he was crying he did not answer my question. As we were entering my husband's village, I saw an Army truck parked there at the entrance. I was astonished on seeing the truck. I asked my brother and as usual he did not respond and just brushed off the question saying that probably something had happened somewhere. As I entered our house, I saw a huge crowd in our courtyard. There were hundreds of questions looming in my head, when I saw my mother-in-law lying unconscious. My elder brother-in law then informed me that there had been a terrorist attack in Tripura, but they were still not sure whether my husband had lost his life. After that I do not remember clearly, as the news was such a shock that I fainted. I was seven months pregnant at that time."
She further says, that although she was not aware, but she was told that the Army had helped them in conducting the last rites. The Deputy Commissioner of Morigaon District also visited them and consoled her.
Sipahi Buddheswar Nath was loved by his family and the villagers. Nirmali said that every year the village people gathered to celebrate New Yearand had a community feast. But that year when her husband died, the village people did not celebrate. He was very simple person and was loved by all.
At present Nirmali Nath stays with her parents. Her elder daughter is already married. She says, "After my husband's demise, I stayed at my in-law's house for two months. But when the time neared to give birth to my second child I came to my parents house. Unfortunately after three months of my daughter's birth she left the world. My relationship with my husband's family also became strained as they pestered me to share the money which I received from the Army after my husband's death. Since I was young at that time, I did not know anything and gave them everything that I had. I have nothing of my husband."
She adds, "There are many memories I have of my husband. But as they say, when you have too many things to say you fall short of words."
Late Buddeshwar Nath loved his family and was a very responsible son. Being the eldest son and only one from the family to be working in a government job, the family members had a lot of expectations from him.
Nirmali said that when her husband came home during the holidays, he would bring gifts for each and everyone. He also brought the biggest fish from the market, and as theirs was a joint family they used to have a hearty meal together. He loved Magh Bihu very much and he made sure that he can home for Magh Bihu. And as her husband had so many responsibilities, he could not take her out on any trip.
She further says, "I talked with my husband just about 5 days before his death. He was supposed to come home in January to attend the marriage of his uncle's son. In those days there were no mobile phones and only a few houses had landline phones. In my mother's village there was a family, who had a telephone in their house. My husband would call me in their phone, and I went to their house to talk with my husband. The last time we talked, he proposed that our daughter be admitted to school as she was turning three. Since he did not get to celebrate her birthday even once, he wanted to celebrate her birthday this time. But it is such an irony that on the day of her birthday, we were performing his shraddha. My daughter was very small, so she does not remember anything about her father."
She adds, "I have received support from the Army for my daughter's education. The Sainik Board of Nagoan district also offered me a job. I submitted the documents which were required, but since I did not get any further information, I did not pursue the matter. I am now running my family with my husband's pension."
Buddeswar Nath was adored and respected by the villagers. His wife says, "Ours is a very small village, but everybody lived in harmony. Everyone loved my husband. When he was home, everybody came to visit him. And since he was the only person from our village to work in Defence, people respected him and held him in high esteem. He is also the first martyr of our village."
She continues, "The day my husband died, the villagers cried along with our family. We built a small Shaheed Bedi in our courtyard in honour of my husband, and every year on his death anniversary I go there to pay homage."
Nineteen years have elaped since the brave soldier gave his life serving his motherland. But for his loved ones, he continues to be an inspiration. He continues to receive acclaim for his bravery and love of his nation. They hold him in high regard and cite him as an example to follow.