In Gudigere village of rural Mandya, a bereaved family awaits the mortal remains of 33-year-old constable H Guru stricken with grief, still far from coming to terms with the loss. Guru had visited his family and was with them till Sunday (February 10) and on the fateful day when tragedy stuck, he had just joined work in Jammu.
His younger brother Madhu, while recalling his last conversation with Guru, said that he spoke to him that morning at around 9 am and asked him to stay safe. He had spent over a fortnight with the family and had celebrated his cousin's birthday just days before he left.
His parents, Honniah and Chickolamma, have been inconsolable since they heard the news of the tragic death of their elder son. Guru had started getting a new house constructed for them and spoken to them of how he was contemplating taking voluntary retirement so he could settle in his village and care for his ageing parents.
His 20-year old widow Kalavathi, who was his maternal cousin, has been inconversable most of the morning as she awaits her husband's mortal remains. The couple had tied knot last year in April and could not even celebrate their first anniversary of marital bliss.
22-year-old Mahesh S who looked up to constable Guru as his mentor recalls how in their last conversation last week, Guru encouraged him to joined the armed forces. Despite the steep challenges, he felt honoured to be a part of Indian Army.
In 2011, even as his family was apprehensive about his decision to join the army, he remained determined to serve the country. Before being posted in his current posting in Jammu, Guru served in Jharkhand for over three years.
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As the entire village on Saturday has been shrouded in a cloud of gloom, many recall, with pride, how he never changed from the helpful, soft-spoken boy who grew up amidst them. Hailing from a family of dhobis, last week too, he was seen lending a helping hand to his parents and ironing clothes in the portico of their under-construction house.
For Guru's parents who had never ventured outside of Mandya, their son's achievement gave a sense of pride and his stories, a window to the world outside which had been inaccessible to them. For the last 8 years, while they missed his presence at home, they took solace in his intrepidity and resolve to serve the nation.
Breaking her silence, an anguished Kalavathi melancholically says ‘please get me to talk to my husband once, he had assured me he will come back. I request the government to give protection to those who protect our country’
Chickolamma despairs ‘When will you bring my son back. Whenever I cried my son cried with me. He always asked me to eat on time. Never thought I will see him like this for the last time. So many people have come to pay respects to him today, I now realize his achievement.’
For most of his family, like the rest of the people in this nondescript village in Mandya, the reality of war and its consequences seemed abstract till now. Guru's stories of the hardship he faced, in extreme weather conditions seemed from a different world but his unassuming mannerisms would bring them closer home.
His batchmate Mahadeva who trained with Guru after joining CRPF said ‘ he would always say those who got scared has already accepted defeat.’