25th Jan 94 is an unforgettable day for an officer of the Indian Army and the villagers of
Longdipabram, a village in the Tamenlong district in Manipur. This was the day when their lives were to change, on account of an unfortunate incident.
Before I get into the details of this incident that occurred two decades ago, I would like to mention something that I wrote in the recent past, which goes like this:
“ What’s the big deal when people do special things or care for a family member or friend?
The Big Deal is when something is done for strangers or people whom we know cannot or may not reciprocate in an equivalent manner.
It’s no big deal if people are respectful and cheerful in your presence.
The Big Deal is when someone can be in awe of you, even if you are not a part of their life anymore, even in your absence & just your memory.
The Big Deal is when people smile, just at the thought of you.
Your family will always wish you to be around forever.
The Big Deal is when you touch the lives of people around you, in subtle yet significant ways
that they wish for you to be around them always.
That’s a life well lived, in a way that even God would be proud of His creation.
When I wrote this, I thought this was a musing rooted deep in philosophy. The line ‘Even God would be proud of His creation’ seemed too unreal and impossible to achieve. However, I have met someone who time and again makes me feel that maybe this might be one of those people who God may surely be proud of.
An unforgettable night
Going back in time again, on 25th Jan’94, Col DPK Pillay from the 4th Batallion of Brigade of Guards, went on a mission of apprehending militants from their hideout. Col Pillay led the ambush and during the skirmish that ensued, one of the militants fired 4 bullets on his chest and arms, a portion of his leg was also blown off by the grenade attack there. In the midst of this ambush, 2 small children were caught and injured.
Despite the grave injuries and the threat of losing his life, Col Pillay ordered the evacuation of those children before his own. Luckily, by the time help came back to evacuate him, he was able to hold on and could be provided with necessary treatment before it was too late. After the requisite treatment, he was back on his feet, in stable condition. He was decorated with a Shaurya Chakra, apart from the many other professional milestones that he achieved in his life.
Like most of us do, he too moved on in his life with his postings and duties. Little did he know about how grateful the citizens of Longdipabram were to him and how they held him in high esteem.
However, in 2010 during his tenure in the Ministry of Defence, he got a call from his friend informing him about a memorial in his name in Longdipabram. Surprised, he made a visit to the village.
He was given a rousing welcome at the village. In fact he was received by the militant who shot him. He got to know that the militant had surrendered, served his punishment and upon his return had transformed and taken to farming. Col Pillay also got to meet the injured children who had grown up to be adults now and the mother of those two children as well. Not only this, the village went on to adopt him by gifting him 100 acres of land, which he obviously refused.
The choice of vengeance or love?
Col DPK Pillay had all the reasons in the world to hold grudges against the man who shot him, to be angry about the things that went wrong in his life (owing to this incident). As an after effect of those bullet wounds, he still suffers from shoulder pain and such for which there is no treatment, except therapy. The pain being a part of his life, till he lives. But one knows that there is no pain or anger, when one looks at the kind of work that he has done for the development of Longdipabram. From simple activities like setting up orange orchards, to more developmental things like getting highways developed and getting a school built, organizing scholarships for girls there,there is so much work that he has gotten done.
It is awe inspiring; not the fact that someone can do so much charity and not brag about it. But simply that someone chooses to live on without any anger / hatred or vengeance about a life threatening negative situation. It is only right that I mention this incident here. I once had the privilege to meet him at his office and I noticed 2 frames of the picture of him, in the injured, unconscious, close to death state. I asked him as to why he had two frames of the same picture at different places, in his office. His reply was that there was one at home too. I was surprised and speechless too. Although I did comment as to why would one like to have this, as it is a painful reminder.
Most of the people I know would not want to keep such memories framed or mention them again. But he does that, maybe as a reminder that life is so uncertain and nothing is in our control or that Love is the biggest way to help us win others or that his life is a second chance and he better use it to make the lives of others better. I can only guess this as I missed the chance to ask him.
His work speaks while he performs in silence
I could point out at half a dozen people who wouldn’t miss the opportunity of taking credit of being the saviour of one who is now a Bank Employee, but all that Col DPK Pillay does is maybe post one odd update about those children and those villagers.
Col DPK Pillay is no God (although he has a documentary on his name called ‘God of Longdipabram), so he obviously could be as flawed as any other human being. Only those who see him closely would be able to say whether he is a person who loves everything to be spick and span or wouldn’t mind being in the midst of chaos, whether he just mutters under his breath when angry or would use cuss words as liberally as any of us, whether he is rigid in his religious views or believes that all God is one. No matter what his beliefs or even flaws are, the one simple reason for me to idolise him or be inspired by him is his ability to move on, without any bitterness, to be forgiving and put the past behind him. It is such forgiveness and letting go of grudges which has the power to make the world a better place.
If I am able to emulate even an iota of what he does for the benefit of others, I would consider myself a decent human being whose life has been well lived.
A much larger canvas apropos
The life of such a person cannot be summed up in a thousand words’ article. This is just a humble effort to highlight certain virtues.
It is only apt that I end my piece with a poem presented to Col Pillay by the people of Longdipabram.
THE WORLD LIVES BECAUSE…
Some men do not eat alone
For others they atone;
They know how to wield bows
And ward off countless arrows
They do not harbor anger
Even if evil brings them danger
And will not touch gift or good’s
If it is tainted with blood ,
They live their lives with honour
And know no fear in their manner
Thank our god’s for such women
The world lives because of them!
More power to you Col DPK Pillay. May your tribe grow. Keep inspiring.