Dr Kulsum Mehmood is an Eye Consultant in a job. She is a single mother who faced and is facing many lifetime challenges with great courage.
A Love Story - True Love Never Dies
A Love Story – True Love Never Dies
By Dr Kulsum Mehmood
One fine evening in autumn, the birds were chirping and returning to their nests, and a soft cool breeze was blowing. Trees were shedding their leaves as they always do in autumn. She sat in her favourite comfortable garden chair viewing the family album and sipping some coffee. It was around 5 PM on that autumn evening. Kanchan was on wrong side of thirty and still quite young and beautiful. She had been viewing her album for quite some time now, engrossed in her teenage son’s photographs. Her son Aryan was in another city completing his high school education. He was to come home that evening from his hostel. She missed him so much.
As she turned a new leaf to view the next photograph she saw the photograph of her late husband’s grave. The smile on her face vanished as she viewed Trehan’s grave’s epitaph. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she, with tear stained face and bleary eyes looked at the epitaph on the grave. The words popped out and in the blur she read, “Above all beauties of this world is love. Devoid of all desires save that to give. Trees grow old and flowers must die, but love remains and walks with us beyond the gates of death.” With slender trembling fingers she wiped away the stray tears that welled up in her eyes.
Her whole life came back to her as a flashback motion picture in her mind’s eye. It had been now over ten and five, fifteen years that her loving husband Flight Lieutenant Trehan Sethi had died in a plane crash. It was a very gloomy day when the news of her husband’s fatal accident had reached her. Her life changed completely and in a split second her doted haven came crashing down. Ever since then, her life was never the same again.
Theirs was a love story. Tender innocent love was born during their early college days. Very first time they met on a foggy winter morning while cycling to college. It was love at first sight. Since then they had a morning cup of coffee at Needo’s Coffee Shop now and then. Over the days their love blossomed and grew in intensity. There was a sort of electrical connection between them.
Whenever Trehan met her there ran in her whole being a wave of excitement and bliss. The bond they shared was indescribable. Theirs was a pure innocent teenager’s love that they shared. Their meetings grew regularly and their vibes matched each other perfectly. It seemed that they were made for each other.
Thereafter Trehan joined the Flying Club at college and later was promoted and posted in the Air Force as a Fighter Pilot. Their love grew in leaps and bounds and bloomed in intensity, so much so that in due course of time they could understand each other’s wish without uttering a single word. To begin with they met each other clandestinely. Soon both families accepted their friendship and there started a chain of communication through phone calls and letters which were shared between them.
Trehan was posted in a MIG – 21 squadron of Air Force and was transferred in another city. MIG – 21 aircrafts are supersonic, that is they fly at a speed which is faster than sound. It was exam time for Kanchan when one day Trehan had an engine problem while doing a routine flying sortie. In a split of a second he ejected out of the cockpit of the air craft else he would have died in an air crash. Luckily he landed safely with the help of a parachute, without any injury. When this news reached Kanchan she got worried beyond words. It was only after Trehan talked to her on long distance call that her worries turned into a relief. Trehan even tried to jest about his parachute jump by saying that when the aircraft’s engine stopped in mid air, he ejected successfully. The air craft fell in a barren field and the dugout hole in the field resulted in access to ground water. The farmer was so happy to have a well with sweet water in his field, which was barren otherwise. Later Trehan came to visit her on a short leave and things were back to normal.
That year, Kanchan passed her MBBS Final examination in flying colours and graduated to become a qualified doctor. It was again a time for celebration and they had a gala time feasting and frolicking. It was a bond of true love and care for each other. Trehan paid full attention to Kanchan’s need and would fulfil her wishes before she could put them in words. They shared a bond of understanding, care and love which was rare and unique.
Love nurtured and matured and was tied into the Divine bond of Marriage. They were married on 18th December that year, with a lot of fun fare. Both of them used to maintain a day to day diary in which they wrote a countdown of the DLTGM. This was a code for Days Left To Get Married, and the countdown began one full month earlier to the date of marriage, that is from 18th November. Almighty God showered His immense blessings on the young couple. With their marriage, love blossomed and came to fulfillment and fruition.
On arrival of the newly-weds at the Air base the first time after marriage, it was an occasion for celebration for the whole squadron. There was a big party with lots of festivities which made the event a memorable one. Drums were beating and sweets were distributed and everyone danced to the party music which was played. Life was bliss for them now and their lives revolved around each other. They grew closer to each other, so much so that they began to ask each other, “What else more can we now aspire for in life? We have each other now and nothing is lacking in our lives.” Indeed they had everything one can dream of acquiring.
To begin with they stayed in the small Honeymoon quarter for the newly married couples at the Air Force Station and later on shifted to a large palatial house. They had a huge garden surrounding their house in which grew thousands of roses and other blossoms and fruit bearing trees. They also got busy in the social life which surrounded them and their cosy love life blossomed. Parties, lunches and dinners were relished and there were huge social circle of friends and their families. All the fellow officers were very cordial and co-operative and they felt as if they were in the seventh heaven. Many a time the bachelor officers of the squadron would gate – crash on them at dinner time and it was a pleasure to share their food with them. And of course, they had each other to love and cherish. Life was like a fairytale dream, so full of excitement and love. That year Holi festival was also celebrated with lots of fervor. Colors were splashed and festivities were observed. It was indeed a very memorable day.
Sometimes both in - law families would come over to spend some time with them, It was great fun having them over at their Air Force station residence for some time. They cooked and baked delicious meals and had lots of fun. Life for them was perfect and contented.
Time flew and they were now going to celebrate their 2nd marriage anniversary. Political conflicts with a neighbouring country broke out and some skirmishes were encountered between the two countries on the line of control. Soon a full-fledged war broke out and Trehan got posted in a front region. He needed to be on high alert in a fully operational gear. Those days were full of tension and Trehan was very busy in his work. Kanchan fully supported him and prayed for the country and for her husband and fellow pilots.
Trehan was on high alert with round the clock duty. He had to be ready to take off at a moment’s notice and be ready to deal with the enemy’s aircraft for air to air and air to ground attacks. Sometimes the requirement was to enter the enemy’s air space and drop bombs to destroy their military bases. Those were trying risky times. During the course of the war Trehan flew many times in the air encounters with the enemy and brought laurels to the country.
Those were very tense and risky times and days passed slowly. And then, one dreary day news came that Trehan’s aircraft had been involved in an accident and Trehan was declared missing. Later a mutilated body of a pilot was found and it was thought to be that of Kanchan’s martyred husband.
Widowed Kanchan’s world turned topsy-turvy. Her dreams were shattered and her very life’s purpose of existence came tumbling down. Trehan was cremated with full military honour and gun shots salutes. Air Force broke the news of his martyrdom as gently as they could, but still it was like a bomb exploding on the families. All necessary arrangements and support was offered. But no amount of logic and support could soothe and comfort the turmoil which was created by Trehan’s death.
Posthumously, seven months after Trehan’s demise, Kanchan was blessed with a baby boy. This beautiful child became the only joy of her life and the reason to live. But, the pain and sorrow of losing her beloved life-partner did not ease out. Her life had sort of come to a standstill. But, time and tide waits for no man, so life moved on. It was difficult for Kanchan to come to terms with her life. There were health and financial issues also which had to be tackled. She completed her post – graduation and qualified to be an Eye doctor. She immersed herself in her profession fully, treating eye patients and carrying on with Free Eye Camps and Surgeries. She also did some painting and tried some literary activities. Life carried on.
Now, we come back to the present autumn evening. It has been fifteen years since Trehan’s demise. Her son is now a teenager. Kanchan is in deep prayer looking at the album’s photograph of her husband’s grave. Her face is tear- stained and she is mumbling and praying for her departed love. Cool breeze blows on her face and plays with her long tresses and curls. It is so pleasant and silent on this autumn evening. It is twilight now and the only sound ensuing is that of humming of the nocturnal insects and of the cool breeze which is blowing with some intensity. As she reflects on her life she realises that with her beloved’s demise all her dreams have been shattered, and Trehan’s death has left a vacuum in her life which no one can fill.
She rises and rests her eyes on her beloved’s grave’s epitaph for one more time. “Flowers may wilt and trees may die, but love remains and walks with us beyond the gates of death.” Dressed in a white chiffon gown with its flowing pleats blowing here and there in the soft breeze, she looks picturesque like a doll against the autumn sky. If only once Trehan would come back to me through the gates of death, she reflects. God, please help me, she prays.
One last time she reads the engraved words on the grave’s epitaph. A sudden rustling of leaves behind her makes her turn around. What she sees behind her takes her breath away from her. Apparition? Illusion?
She utters “Oh dear, it has been a very long time ..... “ and faints and collapses in his outstretched arms .....
© 2021 Dr Kulsum Mehmood