“Lakshmi was not only brave but also a wonderful human being. She was highly respected in the Indian National Army. We shared our memories of those days whenever she came to the Vadakath house here,” says 98-year-old Appu Nair.
A resident of Pokottumelethil, in the vicinity of the Vadakkath house in Anakkara here, Appu Nair has been a neighbour to Captain Lakshmi Sehgal, and as an INA veteran, he was also her colleague from 1943 to 1946. “Lakshmi was a year younger to me. I will be 99 in the Malayalam month of ‘chingam’. During our years in the INA, Lakshmi was the head of the Rani of Jhansi regiment, while I was in the mechanical section. I never met Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in person, as he would often come disguised at nightfall. But being a regiment leader, Lakshmi had access to him,” Appu Nair told Express.
“I had left for Rangoon in 1938 in search of a job and further education. My destination was Japan. However, I reached Singapore and then became president of the Malayali Association, the Indian Association and a member of the Azad Hind Raj.
“When the Japanese bombed Singapore on December 8,1943, I was among those caught by their forces. Later, Indians who were caught decided to support Japan against the British. When Subash Chandra Bose arrived in 1943 , we joined the INA,” he recounts, adding that Captain Lakshmi had met him on her last visit to Vadakkath house, in 2005. “During an Onam celebration, the destitute children living in the ashram of Swami Sunil Das had come to meet me. Captain Lakshmi was here at the time and she gave ‘Onapuduvas’ to everyone. Mahakavi Akkitham was also present on the occasion,” remembers Appu Nair.