The Indian Air Force (IAF) paid rich tributes to one of its unforgettable Flying Officers who gave up a battle of different kind on May 20, 2014. As a mark of respect to a true fighter, an event was organized in Delhi on Sunday (June 7), where a play was performed enacting the entire life story of Flying Officer M P Anil Kumar.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha was present on the occasion.
Flying Officer M P Anil Kumar, fondly called as MP, was a MiG-21 pilot and life took an unfortunate turn on the night of June 28 in 1988. After a routine night flying, he was returning to the Officers' Mess on a motorcycle. Due to heavy rain, he missed a newly-erected security barrier and went and banged on it.
His neck bore the entire impact breaking it badly. He was confided to the Paraplegic Home (now known as the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre) situated inside the Military Hospital in Kirkee, Pune, for the rest of his life.
A voracious writer, MP contributed to many publications regularly. His grit and determination soon became an inspiration to all those who read his story. He developed a very unique way to write with his pen clenched between his teeth. "Each letter was a victory and the result of enormous effort and sacrifice," says an IAF Spokesperson.
An inspiration to thousands of students
His story soon entered into the textbook of Maharashtra and Kerala and students drew inspiration from a fighter pilot who refused to stay grounded. "With the earnings from his work, he sponsored two under privileged girls through school," the Spokesperson added.
In 2014, after being in a vegetative state for over 26 years, MP was diagnosed with cancer. Finally, on May 20 the same year he gave up his fight, leaving moving lessons from a 50-year-old life.
"Few people go through a lifetime without facing adversity. Some give up, some accept it and a few fight back with grace and become icons in their own lifetimes," the IAF recalled while paying rich tributes to MP.
He was true fighter, different in many ways
His famous article in one of leading English dailies being published from North India under the title ‘Airborne to Chairborne' gave rare insights into the heart and soul of a fighter.
"It isn't just physical ability and average intelligence but an insatiable appetite for success and an unflagging will power that would texture the warp and woof of the fabric called human destiny. Greater the difficulty, sweeter the victory," MP wrote in the article, now hosted on his web portal.
A close friend of his, a media professional in Bengaluru, told OneIndia that MP found different ways to stay active and connected.
"I had met him just days after he celebrated his 50th birthday. He got hooked to the internet to stay in touch with his friends. He often visited many schools and colleges to give motivational lectures. He was different in many ways. A true fighter," recalls the writer, wanting not to be named.
"I am of the opinion that MP's story should be made as a text book in all schools across India. Not sure if we will come across such a moving story in our lifetime," he adds.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)