2021: A year of Love, Labour and Loss

Love is a mystery. Love is unitive. Love is how we connect as human beings with one another and with the whole universe together. Love is how we learn, become better, and make the world a better place to live for us and others. Love needs freedom to breathe, equality to thrive, and openness to flow and grow. Love is personal, political, philosophical, social, historical, metaphysical, transcendental, et al. Sadly, we have only one word to describe such a complex emotion. The ancient Greeks had six different words, but even that’s not enough. 2021 taught me new ways to describe the complexity of love and its various hues. Love lost on many counts, but it miraculously sprang on a few occasions like a phoenix. My LOVE vocabulary was defined and redefined by people who touched my life one way or another this year.

shillpi a singh

LOVE IS COURAGE: Aashna Lidder

Aashna Lidder, 16, is Geetika and late Brigadier Lakhwinder Singh Lidder’s only child. Her father was one among the thirteen people, who lost their lives when an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district on December 8. The tragic air crash claimed the lives of the country’s first and sitting Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat, and ten other defence personnel – Lt Col H Singh, Wg Cdr PS Chauhan, Sqn Ldr K Singh, JWO Das, JWO Pradeep A, Hav Satpal, Nk Gursewak Singh, Nk Jitender, L/Nk Vivek and L/Nk S Teja. Group Captain Varun Singh, who survived the crash, is presently undergoing treatment.   

A student of Class 12, Aashna is an author whose book In Search of a Title: A Teenager’s Journey of Trials, Tribulations, Musings and Learnings was released on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2021, in the Capital. 

We Must Give Him a Good Farewell, A Smiling Send-Off, I Am A Soldier’s Wife, I have Nothing More To Say, गर्व से ज़्यादा तो दुख है, लाइफ़ बहुत लंबी हमें काटने के लिए लेकिन भगवान को यही मंज़ूर तो यही सही, He Was A Very Good Father, My Child Will Really Miss Him, It’s A Big Loss…”

Geetika Lidder, wife of Brigadier LS lidder

“I am going to be 17. So he was with me for 17 years, we will go ahead with happy memories. It’s a national loss. My father was a hero, my best friend. Maybe it was destined and better things will come our way. He was my biggest motivator.” 

Aashna Lidder, daughter of Brigadier LS Lidder

Aashna shared a special relationship with her father who, she said, used to pamper her. In an old video that recently surfaced on social media, Aashna can be seen proudly speaking about her father on Father’s Day.

“In my fifteen years, my father has missed my birthday seven times and missed at least twenty family functions. We knew we did not come first, the nation did I couldn’t be more proud of him. In the Army, we learn to salute before we shake hands, we learn to say Jai Hind before we say hello,” she says in the video. 

Former Puducherry lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi took to Twitter to share a clip of Aashna Lidder reciting a poem from the latter’s first book. 

“This is the poem Aashna Lidder (daughter of Late Brigadier Lidder who lost his life in the Helicopter crash) recited this from her own book, on December 3, in the Friday Book Reading session. It was ominous when you listen to it. Life is very mysterious,” Bedi tweeted on Friday, hours after the army officer was cremated with full military honours in Delhi.

Clip shared by Kiran Bedi of Aashna Lidder reciting a poem from her debut book.

“So, I’m going to be reading a poem of mine which I wrote on Independence Day and it is called Selfless Independence. It is called that because of how selfless independence is, how people are ready to give up themselves and their lives for a nation and other people, even though gratitude is not sure to come from the other end. They aren’t sure if you’re going to be grateful for what they’ve done but they still do it,” she says, sharing the screen with the nation’s first female police officer, and five other participants.

The aspiring writer then narrates the poem from her debut book, In Search of a Title: Musings Of A Teenager. She says, “To the man that serves not for him but for us, to the man with ruptured organs, silent, creating no buzz. To the child that’s fearless, to a wife who is rudderless, to an incomplete family for a complete nation, to sacrifice beyond your imagination. To the man that buried his independence for you, for you and nothing more. To every fighter on land, on air and shore, for you we pray, for you we pray every way in every day. So, here’s wishing you a very happy Independence Day.”

“This was a short poem,” Aashna Lidder concludes, as Bedi applauds her.

The book was released last month, at a ceremony attended by, among others, the teenager’s parents, as well as Kiran Bedi herself, and Madhulika Rawat. According to a media report, the book has seen a surge in demand in the days following the December 8 tragedy.

It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know.

Eleanor Roosevelt 

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