Monday, September 20, 2010

In memory of my youngest brother...

2:20 pm, 10 Sept 2009:I was chatting happily with my teammates about life in armed forces and how proud we were of my dad and youngest brother.. My manager was thrilled and we were talking about the highs of serving the nation...
Then suddenly Chaitanya(elder brother) called to say that Manu's plane had crashed...
when I asked about Manu, he said 'C'mmon champs.. he was flying a fighter aircraft'...he could speak no more...I just cried in helplessness...we all did

Everything changed..tears, more tears, questions, no answers, strength, memories, tears...

A year has passed... A year without you Manu... but your voice still rings in my ears..
Time is a big healer, some say.. But for me, Time is ruthless... it is severe.. It has no friends..
It was not kind enough to spare that one second to you.. a 'tiny' second in many of our lives... but a big second for you which made the difference between life and death..

I remember our younger happier days (our school days) which we 3 kids would bet as the happiest days ever spent...
Life was a 'bed of roses'... In the comfort and protection of our parents who showered infinite love and made sure we had the best of time...
Mom was a fantastic cook and in our family of 5, all but you were chubby... coz you only ate what you liked and what you liked was rare..
I remember you were a fantastic swimmer who could do 'underwater swimming'... a thought that never occured to me forget about attempting it!
You always looked up to the best of things and tried hard and patiently until you achieved them.... awesome:)
Your powerful car is a testimony to your diligence and patience... you did the market research for the best car that matched your needs, then waited patiently for dad to approve(dad initially thought it was way too expensive and a wastage of resources:).. you had several rounds of discussion which
you handled calmly until dad gave way to your will power..
Now dad drives the car as his most prized possession on road..

And you were good at horse riding.. You were the youngest to go on an outdoor trek...
You even convinced the 'saab ji' that even though your size was small, your ambitions were high...
and you were so determined, that you became an excellent rider and won prizes at NDA too

Size never mattered to you.. infact nothing deterred you from doing anything.. even if everyone discouraged you...
You knew in your heart you are going to do it... and you knew it would be done...
Such was your magic my brother.....

Your honest and soulful laughter was so contagious that it brings a smile to my face everytime I remember it...

You were always so active... and always so interested in doing something...
You were the first among us 3 who cooked a great omlette and later fried sausages, bought out of our pocket money from a nearby meat shop, in the kitchen which we ate happily when mom took her afternoon nap..

As a teenager, you were quite naughty. You didn't like the straight blades of the fan in your classroom as they were normal and boring. So you and your gang decided to bend the blades such that the fan now looked like an inverted flower..So much for creativity..

As you grew, you kept surprising us with all the new things you did... And it all seemed effortless for you..
Like your becoming a fighter pilot... as if you were destined to fly... NDA did a lot of good to you.. shaped you from a boy to a gentleman.. who had nerves of steel but a heart so warm and loving that everyone was touched by it.

As a part of your job, you had to stay away from us most of the time. Despite being the youngest, you were the most responsible. You would call each of us regularly and write letters to us...

You felt so bad when my Rakhi didn't reach you on time last year....
Thankfully it reached soon after and I know it meant a lot to you as I saw it on your table.. even after you left...

Mom is still waiting to see you... she believes that someday she will see you...
And daddy is so emotional....
Chaitanya gives a sad smirk when I mention you... am sure his heart fills up...
I don't know how a year has passed.. every day and every moment you reside in our hearts, prayers... existence
Time is playing its heartless role as I change all the verbs to past tense as I edit this page..

"kahaan se aaya thaa wo, chhooke humaare dil ko... kahaan gaya use dhoondho.."
-- Written by Pragya (Manu's sister)

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Year Since Flt. Lt. Manu Akhouri left... Pay Homage to the FlyBoy

An year ago, a lean, dark, 24 year old Flight Lieutenant of the Indian Air Force – with wise eyes and a mischievous smile climbed into the cockpit of his Mig-21 for a routine sortie at the Air Force Station Bhisiana,Punjab. Little did anyone know that minutes later, he would transcend from being another gifted flyer of the Air Force to becoming an angel for the village of Bhaliana, which he saved from the crash of his MIG-21 and lost his life in the process.

His story was brought to the fore by his close friends and family, who pushing aside their own pain, worked to make his name known among people. Since then, his profiles on social networking sites like Orkut and Facebook have been regularly visited by friends, admirers and his fellow countrymen, who leave to him their sincerest tributes in words. This blog alone has about 240 followers, and more than 4000 visits. This says something about the popularity of Flt. Lt. Manu Akhouri.

A loss is a loss, nevertheless. All we say to pay homage cannot fill the void he left in the lives of his dear ones. His parents, for whom he had always remained the youngest and the most adored in the house. His siblings who cracked jokes about his dancing style, and ability to fall asleep almost everywhere- And an amazing young girl with whom he had woven rainbow-coloured dreams for their future.

Flt. Lt. Manu Akhouri’s father Col. Sanjay Akhouri has decided to serve the govt. school that his son saved by providing scholarships in his name. These scholarships shall be given to meritorious students of the school who would like to pursue a career with the Armed Forces. Over the bus stand near which his plane finally succumbed to the damages, Flt. Lt. Manu Akhouri has his name painted in large letters. It may be a small achievement to some, but it does not emerge from a paperwork regime that listlessly ordered the bus stand to be named so. It is the sincerest gratitude paid by the villagers who know what bargain Manu Akhouri made with his life on September 10, 2009. The Govt. School shall be named after him by the request of the grateful villagers of Bhaliana.

This tribute is to Manu Akhouri, the man who did not waver in the face of death. He who followed suite of the courageous Officers before him and set an example for those who shall follow. A heartfelt salute to him..

PS: We are working on making a video collage for the blog. The idea is to publish on the blog video messages of people saying a few words to pay tribute to Manu Akhouri. Just a few seconds, a few heartfelt words. The clip need not be too heavy, just pick up your mobile phones, shoot a short video message and send it to us at Please send in your comments, and suggestions to us as well.

Please share your stories. There are many courageous officers in Flt. Lt. Akhouri’s league whose stories need to be told. Share a story. Mail them to us at

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Hero's Birthday.. Please pay tribute..

Dear friends,

Flt. Lt. Manu Akhouri turns 26 on 21st february..

Heroes don't die. Remember Manu Akhouri for what he was- A dear son, a caring brother, a loyal lover and a man of honor.

Please pay tribute to him on his birthday. Leave your comments..

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pilot son lost to MiG-21 crash, father turns to help school he saved

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2009 at 0424 hrs Chandigarh:

Flight Lieutenant Manu Akhouri’s greatest passion was flying. As a child, his only toys were planes and helicopters and he would rush out to see aircraft flying past. His father, Colonel Sanjay Akhouri, doesn’t know whether the students in a government school at Bhisiana village of Gidderbaha did the same when Manu’s plane went down nearby on September 10, reportedly as the 24-year-old made his best to ensure he didn’t crash into the building.

Three months later, he has decided to help students at the Government Senior Secondary School who may want to become pilots like Manu. He has announced monetary help for those wanting to join the defence services, provided three classes with desks and benches and will give Rs-10,000 scholarships to meritorious students of Classes X and XII.

“Eyewitnesses recount that my son took a left turn to save the school, which is when the incident happened. He chose to steer his MiG-21 aircraft away from habitation, depriving himself precious seconds in ejecting. Though a second Court of Enquiry by the Air Force has now been instituted to conclude the reasons for the crash, I would like to believe that my son sacrificed his life to save that of many others,” Akhouri says.

Manu was returning to the Bhatinda air base after a routine sortie when the accident happened. A first-year engineering student, he had left before the final exams to join the National Defence Academy (NDA). Born in Daltonganj in Jharkhand, he later underwent training on Advanced Jet Trainer Hawks in Britain and was posted to the Golden Arrows, Squadron 17 of Bhatinda, to fly MiG-21s

The Punjab government also wants to name the Gidderbaha school after Manu. “We would like to believe that the young pilot saved the school. He lost his life in line of duty and the least we can do is honour the family’s wish to name the school after him. The Deputy Commissioner of Gidderbaha has been asked to move an application to the Education Department to change the school’s name,” says Gidderbaha MLA and Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal.

Akhouri will be visiting the school early next year to hand out the scholarship and awards. While the question marks over MiG-21 safety haunt him, he says he has no regrets. “Manu was born to fly. Most of his toys were aircraft or helicopters or other flying objects. He used to known even aircraft timings and could identify them by the signs on their tailboards,” he says.

With their son’s next birthday approaching on February 21, he fondly recalls his last one. “I was posted at Aizawl in Mizoram. Manu decided to celebrate his birthday with the tiny-tots of a school where his mother was teaching. Though he did not understand the Mizo language, they all had a ball of a time. He later told his mother that it was one of his most memorable birthdays.”