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Little Disha had many reasons today to keep herself in a jovial mood. It was her 10th birthday, 50 years of India’s Independence (she was to perform at the school function) and the most important of all, it was the day her father would come home after 12 months. On reaching the breakfast table, her mother handed her a white envelope and said it was a gift from her father, which he had written before leaving home a year ago. As Disha was getting late for school , she decided to read the letter on her way back home.
On reaching the gates of her school, Disha witnessed the most beautiful sight—at the centre stood the pride of every Indian, the Tricolor, fluttering in the air. Being the daughter of Lieutenant Jagdish Singh, this 10-year old girl very well knew the significance of the National Flag. Yes! Her father had been serving the nation for the past 20 years and always made sure to inculcate in Disha the love one should have for one’s motherland.
The celebration for Independence Day ended with great pomp and show. Disha received plaudits for her performance. The kids were then taken to their respective classrooms for some recreation. As the teacher distributed the food packets to the class, the school peon stood at the door with a message for Disha. “ Your father is back home and you are asked to reach without any delay”, her teacher said. Disha’s joys knew no bounds. She immediately picked up her bag and dashed out of the classroom. She found her uncle waiting at the parking lot. Her uncle hugged her tight and said, “You are the strongest girl I have known”. Disha smiled back and jumped into the car. As they were half way home, her hands reached for the envelope, which her mother had given her that morning. With the smile still on her face, she read the letter:
To the ‘Best Daughter’,
Today, you have turned 10 and quite grown up to understand the contents of this letter. I still remember the day I first held you in my arms, with tears of joy in my eyes. The feeling of being the father to such a lovely daughter is way out of this world. You have always been my source to live, but as you know that your dad is into serving the nation, so life is quite unpredictable. I know you have always been proud of your father and so am I. Serving your motherland is such a feeling, which can’t be expressed in mere words, and you will gradually realize this as you grow up. My sweetheart, if ever comes a day, when I may not be there to see you grow, I would like to be assured that you don’t fumble with your duties as a daughter and as a responsible citizen. I would also wish to see the same pride on your face as you have it now, when you bid me the final goodbye. Hope to see you soon and have a great celebration for your birthday.
The car screeched and Disha lifted her head to see that they had already reached home. She quickly tucked the letter into her pocket and rushed towards the door. The little girl witnessed the most dreadful sight of her life…….the house was filled with the fragrance of chrysanthemums and incense sticks. Her mother sat still, staring at something, which Disha couldn’t make out from the distance she was at. As she neared her mother, her eyes fell on a shrouded body , the body of her ‘Hero’. Yes, as promised, her father did come home, but was wrapped in the Tricolor. Disha knew that her Hero would now be the nation’s Hero too. With this thought , the little girl smiled and held her mother’s hand as tight as she could. She remembered her father’s last words which he had written in the letter……….’the final goodbye’. Now it was time to bid farewell to her Hero . She bent down close to her father, removed the shroud from his face, kissed his forehead and whispered in his ears……..” You are my Hero , and I am proud of you Papa. Please do not worry, I will take care of mom and grow up to be as brave as you. I Love you and will miss you my Hero “.


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