THRISSUR: Sreelakshmi struggled to hold back tears as she recollected her Deepavali celebrations with husband A Pradeep, the junior warrant officer in Indian Air Force (IAF) who died in a chopper crash at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on December 8, 2021.
“We used to light lamps and click photos. At the IAF quarters, we celebrated all festivals irrespective of religion. We cooked food and shared them with other families as well,” Sreelakshmi, who had married Pradeep on August 26, 2012, said in a trembling voice.
Sreelakshmi had preferred to remain at home and look after the family, but Pradeep asked her to pursue MCom. After Pradeep’s death, the state government appointed her as a clerk in the revenue department. Pradeep’s demise has left a vacuum in the lives of his parents and brother who reside at Ponnukkara, a small village in Puthur panchayat in Thrissur. He used to visit them at least once every year.
“I used to discuss every matter with him. He was my dear brother,” said A Prasad, who is younger to by him by just one year. “He could not be with us during every Onam and Vishu, but whenever he visited us, it was like a festival for us,” he said. His father Radhakrishnan is bedridden due to old-age ailments. Sreelakshmi lives in Thrissur town along with her two kids and father.
Pradeep had joined Air Force at the age of 19. “He was very determined. He nurtured the ambition to have a career in defence from a tender age. He started preparations much early and succeeded,” said Kumari, Pradeep’s mother.
With Pradeep’s first death anniversary getting nearer, his family is trying to come to terms with the reality that Pradeep would no longer visit them and share his valiant stories with them.