Falak ko zid hai jahan bijliyan girane ki,
hume bhi zid hai wahin aashiyan banane ki.
The verses on the Facebook account of the young fighter pilot from the city, Flight Lieutenant Siddharta Pandey, who died in a crash near Mau on August 4 reflect the die hard spirit of a true soldier never afraid to risk his life at the altar of country, also brought to the fore his zest to take on challenges, which no ordinary mortal would dare to do so.
However, for his family members, he was an ideal son and brother. For us, life was a roller-coaster where one encounters different situations filled with challenges and joy at varied points of time, said his father A K Pandey.
“Although on the personal front it is an irreparable loss, I feel proud that my son laid down his life in the service of the country. Leave aside his achievements as a fighter pilot, my son was a soft-hearted person who had a great deal of compassion and love for both human beings and animals. Perhaps this took him to destinations like Ranthambhore and Corbett National Park where he was also an active member of the Project Tiger.
However, we had no inkling about how involved he was in these activities and it was only after we received a condolence message from Ranthambhore and Kewla Deo Wildlife Reserve after his death that we realised as to how devoted he was towards his passion of protecting the wildlife and his love for the nature,” said A K Pandey.
For village folks, Tanu Bhaiyya, as he was fondly called, was an ordinary human being. He always took time off to visit his ancestral village Munai in Manda tehsil, said a villager, Prem Narain Pandey.
Sharing their grief and sentiments with TOI, his aunt Jyoti Anand said, “My nephew was a perfect human being who during this short life had exhibited all traits, which made him adoring and loving by the whole family. Always willing to lend a helping hand to others, Siddharta wanted to live life to the fullest and explore the unexplored.”
A man of grit and true determination, my nephew was never afraid of the hazards involved with the job. He was guided by the spirit of poem composed for US Air Force officers which reads: “I am a soldier not afraid to die, The wings on my chest are better than the billion in the sky, shall I die in combat zone, box me up and send me home, put all the medals on my chest, and tell my mom I did my best, for glory lights the soldiers tomb, and beauty wipes the brave, tell all the pretty girls not to cry, for soldier I was born and soldier shall I die.”
However, the family never visualised Siddharta’s sudden death given the experience, which he had acquired during the last five years after he was commissioned as a fighter pilot in 2006. “With more than 700 hours of total flying experience out of which 500 was in flying Jaguars, Siddharta’s profile as a fighter pilot stood unchallenged but perhaps fate overtook him,” said a sobbing Jyoti.
“He had promised to come home during Rakshabandhan to his younger sister Shreya, but destiny had something else in store,” said his mother Rita while sharing her grief.
Source: Times Of India