Even the prayers of 1.2 billion Indians could not bring him back to life. Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, we are so very sorry. For one brief shining moment, we thought the more than a miracle had occurred. That you had defied the most incredible odds and made it.
For a couple of days, Sir, you brought the country together as one. The rich, the poor, the young, the old, those students holding prayer meets, strangers offering organs, the whole spectrum of Indians came together to pull for you, underscoring the best in us which so often gets hidden. There was no caste, no religion, no political affiliation to divide us, we wanted so badly for you to live.
Every single one of us. You made us proud.
There is sorrow today.
Indians weep at the sheer enormity of the loss.
We had put away the possibility that despite its best efforts medical science would not be enough. Your comrades in uniform stand straight but their eyes glisten, too. In the moment that the search and rescue teams found you, till the news of your death broke a little before noon, you epitomised the true Indian jigar — an attribute that we have often shortsightedly allowed to be forgotten.
Even in grief, your family will find solace in a nation sharing that grief with them. They must be cared for and their lifestyle maintained for this man gave up his todays for our tomorrows.
Like all those in uniform who daily take on the odds, risk their lives and put themselves on the frontline so we can sleep safely in our beds. We often forget the sacrifices they make and the unquestioning loyalty they bring to the table.
A time to say goodbye and a time to hold close to our hearts the seven-day saga of a man who would not give up.
Time, too, to acknowledge the Indian soldier for his courage and his spirit.
No more words are needed. Even as we bow our heads to the inevitable we can feel the fierceness of the good fight, find some comfort in the bonding that stretched across our country and elevated us from the dross of the daily divisiveness that has become the norm.
Godspeed Lance Naik Koppad, we salute you and your comrades with these words:
When you climb into your bed tonight
Remember and never let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment
There was a Camelot.