BANGALORE: It is with remarkable poise and a dash of lassitude, that this proud father faces questions about life after the death of his only son.
Nearly a year after Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan died while combating terrorists at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in Mumbai, his parents, K. Unnikrishnan and Dhanalakshmi, were on their way to attend a commemorative function organised by the Bihar regiment to which their son belonged.
“I have been asked this question so many times,” says Mr. Unnikrishnan, who is a retired Indian Space Research Organisation official. Of course, we are still coming to terms with our loss just like parents who are faced with the misfortune of losing their child, he says.
But the response that his son’s brave act has generated has been “both overwhelming and a source of strength”, he adds. He recalls the times people would visit his house at the ISRO layout in Yelahanka, Bangalore, to express their condolences. “I could not believe it when they told me that they had flown in from the U.S. and the U.K. with the sole purpose of visiting me and conveying their regards,” he said, describing them as “extremely emotional moments”.
When we were told that people around the world were touched by our son’s brave act, we would be extremely humbled, even embarrassed at times, he says.
Images of the grieving family being hounded by an inquisitive media, and an inflamed father pleading to be left alone, were telecast on television channels in the days following the tragedy.
Over the past year, the couple has started a trust in their son’s memory, the money from which has been used to fund various charities. “A portion of the money has been donated to fund the education and livelihoods of persons with disabilities and children grappling with cancer,” he says.