“What he seasoned and skilled in the few years of the life he lived, much less in number than your whole life put together, was spectacularly much more than you can ever imagine in the wildest of your dreams!”
(2nd from left in the above pic)
When I was really young, my three cousins were the biggest influence to the shenanigan-devising part of my child brain. They were the most mischievous, adventurous, vivacious, snappy and buoyant children I have ever come across. Just to exemplify their skill, they once (in their early teenage) borrowed bicycles from their neighborhood and set upon a journey of more than 100 km to reach the mountains of Patnitop from Jammu city (Jammu & Kashmir, India) and stayed there for a couple of days (No one really knows what they did to survive!) and came back without a scar of struggle on their faces. Overhearing the story as my parents discussed it with utmost concern over dinner for those couple of days until they returned made them super-heroes in my mind.
(1st from the left in this pic)
The elder of them all, Shalley Singh, was their Comrade. He had the key to devising the plan and the younger ones executed it to perfection. They were the most entertaining cousins, because of the camaraderie and love they had for everyone.
(1st from the right in this pic)
In a very sad and unfortunate time, our Uncle, and their father, Dy.S.P Udayveer Singh Sudan, passed away fighting terrorists and Shalley Bhaiya (Bhaiya – What we call our Elder Brothers out of respect in India), who were still in high school, volunteered to join the Police in his place.
(1st from the left in this pic)
In more than ten years of his service to J&K Police, Shalley Bhaiya killed more than 500 terrorists and foiled numerous of terrorist attacks. He was lion of the valley and his name was enough to send the terrorists in a scare-frenzy. He once, unarmed, hiked to a village and waited until the night to grab one of the heads of a terrorist organization by his neck while he was asleep in his bed. This is the kind of heroism one hears only in fiction, but there are many more stories which lead to my conclusion of him being a true Romantic.
Romantics absolutely do not think of anything other than their passion and like to spend most of their time with it. Shalley Bhaiya used to remain in the jungles of Kashmir for months and then return with a big smile and dread locks, which I fascinate to this day. His natural dread locks were a result of staying in caves and walking across jungles for days as a result of their search operations. One thing which inspired me to the soul was his Cheerful Devil-may-care nature. Whenever I used to hear the news that Shalley Bhaiya had come back home for a while, I used to push my father to visit my aunt. He used to tell us these amazing stories and entertain us kids like everything was fun and games back at work. This absolutely amazed me. This is the Soul of a True Romantic. If I ever was on a search operation for months and came back home, I would like to stay aloof for a while to come back to my senses. But Shalley Bhaiya used to meet everyone with a grand smile, unbelievable stories and an even grandiose heart.
His bravery had spread all across Jammu and Kashmir and He was on the epitome of his life, about to get married in 10 days, when he was ambushed and assassinated by the terrorists. It was an act of ‘the dagger in the back’ and it is still a ‘conspiracy theory’ as the terrorists alone could not even have thought of coming near this Lion Heart.
The Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, India, at that time, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad was himself present at his funeral pyre where he was decorated as a Groom in a Spectacular Sherwani.
I have him in my Heart and Mind every moment of my life and always try to imitate his brave nature in everything I embark. He is still with me in his spiritual form, always telling me to be Brave, Kind and Whole Hearted – A True Sikh!
Heaven must be a special place to be with his presence!