Bengaluru, Feb 02: India's Light Combat Aircraft Tejas on Monday flew into the heart of little Chandan, the ‘young pilot' currently waging a valiant battle against cancer.
From today, Chandan will have the inspiring company of a Tejas model, thanks to the quick response from its creators. The little boy had expressed his desire to own a plane model in November last year.
OneIndia's special report on Chandan, published on February 1, 2015 (OneIndia Special: Only prayers can save little pilot Chandan), grabbed the attention of P S Subramanyam, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Director, spearheading the Tejas programme.
Subramanyam is said to have read the boy's report on his phone while travelling for a meeting at the DRDO HQ in Delhi today.
"I was browsing through the Google Alerts on my email and found this report with the Indian Air Force tag. It was a very moving report and I was disappointed to know that Chandan had to wait for this long for a plane model," Subramanyam told OneIndia over the phone from Delhi.
Happy Chandan's small wish is fulfilled: Tejas Chief
The top aerospace and defence scientist of India sought OneIndia's help to track Chandan. However, owing to the boy's deteriorating health, the ADA representative in Delhi couldn't meet Chandan in person to hand over the model.
"I am happy that Chandan's small wish is fulfilled. I had read about him last year when the IAF took him around an air base. I am also happy that Tejas will now be next to Chandan always. Do not give any credit to me or ADA. Had we known this earlier, Tejas would have been with Chandan in November itself. Let's all pray for the boy, a true fighter," Subramanyam said.
OneIndia had carried a special report on Chandan and his dream on November 19, 2014 (OneIndia Special: I will become a real pilot one day, says terminally-ill boy Chandan).
Model handed over in an ambulance
On Monday morning, an ADA representative handed over the Tejas model to Uday Foundation on Sri Aurobindo Marg. "We did not waste a single minute, but made immediate arrangements so that the plane model reached Chandan soon. It was a sort of a special mission for us," says Rahul Verma of the Uday Foundation.
Tejas model was handed over to Chandan, while he was travelling in an ambulance. Along with his father, he was on a visit to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), when Rahul Verma managed to meet them mid-way to hand over the model.
Chandan manages a smile amidst pain
"We had to take him to the hospital since he wasn't eating anything for the last six days. The boy is unable to bear the pain and his eyes are all swollen up. He was really happy to receive the model. He couldn't open his eyes, but managed to smile for a second after touching the model. He was carrying the model all through in the hospital," Chandan's father Girish Mandal said.
He said the doctors are now hoping to find a way out to feed Chandan through some external medication modes.
"We came to know from Uday Foundation that so many people are praying for my son. Today is a happy day for him. His long wish to have a plane is fulfilled. I hope God will hear our prayers," Girish said.
Chandan's story on OneIndia has gone viral with lakhs of online readers sharing it and praying for the boy's speedy recovery. "My heart goes out in prayer. May God have mercy on this little life and all we can do is hope for the Almighty's blessings," said a comment posted by Sumit Pandey.
"As I pray for my son, so do I pray for you to God. May his blessings be with you. Get well soon," said a comment posted by Suvra Sarkar.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)