Breast Cancer Survivor Surekha Pai Pays Tribute to Unsung Heroes of Kargil Conflict through a Song

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Breast Cancer Survivor Surekha Pai pays Tribute to Unsung Heroes of Kargil Conflict through a Song, ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo’ – a original song by her favourite idol Lata Mangeshkar

Mangaluru: 26 July 1999 is a very important day in the history of India and specially for Indian Armed Forces. On this very day, our valiant Armed Forces drove out Pakistan Army intruders from unauthorized occupation of Indian territory of Kargil, Drass, Tololing, Batalik and Turkok sectors in Jammu and Kashmir. This war was an example of great courage, valour, comradeship, sacrifices and leadership on the part of Indian Armed Forces. Many brave men had promised their families that they would soon return from the war, and they kept their word”

Kargil Vijay Diwas, named after the success of Operation Vijay. On 26 July 1999, India successfully took command of the high outposts which had been lost to Pakistani intruders. 26 July is celebrated as Kargil Vijay Diwas in India. The Kargil war was fought for more than 60 days, ended on 26 July and resulted in loss of life, on both the sides. The war ended with India regaining control of all the previously held territory, hence re-establishing the status quo ante bellum. Kargil Vijay Diwas is celebrated on 26 July every year in honour of the Kargil War’s Heroes who laid down their life for the country. This day is celebrated in the Kargil–Dras sector, all over India, and in the national capital New Delhi, where the Prime Minister of India pays homage to the soldiers at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate every year. Functions are organized all over the country to commemorate the contributions of the armed forces. For more details on Kargil Diwas click on this link :

And locally here in Mangaluru, the members of Dakshina Kannada District Ex-Servicemen Association every year observe ‘Kargil Diwas’ with a grand tribute celebration, but unfortunately this year they observed it symbolically amids the Covid-19 lockdown. This morning, Sunday, 26 July, despite the total lock down in the city, the traditional fervour prevailed at the War memorial at Kadri as Centre for Integrated Learning in association with Dakshina Kannada District Ex-Servicemen Association and Lions Club Mangalore jointly organized a symbolic programme to mark the Kargil Vijay Divas. Without much fanfare and keeping the COVID protocols of Masks and social distancing, wreaths were laid at the Memorial as a mark of respect and tribute to the soldiers of the armed forces. Apart from the simple programme, there was also a two-hour live streaming online event “Salutations to Brave Hearts” through the Youtube channel.

The programme included messages from Deputy Commissioner Sindhu Rupesh, MLA Vedavyas Kamath, MLC K Pratapsimha Nayak, inspirational speeches by veterans Col. N S Bhandary and others, along with musical tribute by singers of Sangeeth Bahaar Karoake Group and some documentaries on Kargil War. The online event was hosted by Malini Hebbar and Adarsh Ghokale. The programme was unique as the two-hour package was streamed with all dignitaries being in their respective places, only to be coming together through the online platform. And added to this, local cancer survivor 48-years-old B Com graduate from Mumbai University, Mrs Surekha Pai, a Goud Saraswat Brahmin 48-years-old Smt Surekha Pai, who has kept her life going through her journey suffering from Breast Cancer, through music, which has kept her happy and alive, had paid a tribute to the fallen heroes of Kargil conflict, through a very sentimental Hindi song ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo’, originally sung by India’s renowned playback singer Mrs Lata Mangeshkar aka Lata Didi.

Following a exclusive interview done by Team Mangalorean with Mrs Surekha Pai (Ref: ‘Music Has Kept Me Going & Staying Alive’ says 48-years-old Breast Cancer Survivor Kodiyalchi Smt Surekha Pai ) recently, Team Mangalorean had the privilege to meet Surekha once again, after she had sung a song exclusively as a tribute to the fallen soldiers of Kargil conflict. When asked what made her to dedicate the song on this memorable day, Mrs Surekha said, “Having got the privilege to be a part of Kargil Vijay Divas since two years and been singing my dedication song ‘AE MERE WATAN KE LOGO’ sung by my favourite singer and idol Lata Mangeshkarji, this year too I recorded this song as my tribute to the unsung heroes of Kargil conflict. I sincerely dedicate this song to all the army men and ex-army men and warriors who fought for our country. I salute them with great dignity”. .

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” said Plato. This quote is what Surekha Pai, a cancer Survivor feels is perfect to describe music. Diagnosed with Metastatic Breast cancer in the year 2016 Surekha Pai has been singing at her family or building social get- together. Bhajans or Bollywood songs, music to her was everything. But like every other woman, family became her priority and music took a backseat. But when life took a turn for the worse due to her illnesses, she sought hope through music. While chemotherapy was healing her body, she healed her mind and soul through music.

Some people fight cancer with everything they have, every day that they take a breath. In the case of Ms Surekha, her Breast Cancer might have wore down her body since the day it affected her, it might have exhausted her strength-but she has been a strong lady with determination, having a hint of joyfulness and fun, a sense of self-confidence, an unmistakable kindness- and her love for MUSIC has kept her going. It was the kind of smile that drew people to her. The ravages of cancer, chemo and radiation could not wipe it from her face. If anything, her smile is still brighter and more joyous, and Cancer is helpless against it. Her Cancer has been utterly helpless to interfere, and unable to break Her spirit. Her zest for life and competitive fire is still burning brightly.

Looking at her musical talents, Surekha’s confidence and adventurousness are undimmed. She has taken everything cancer could throw at her and kept going. She has endured pain that would have hobbled the toughest adult. She has found energy in the face of draining treatments. She has maintained a positive outlook in the bleakest of situations. She is brave and fighting through her cancer experience with courage, grace and dignity. We need to admire her singing talents while fighting a battle with cancer since diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer at the age of 42 in February 2016, and coping with life, and keeping herself busy with music/singing to overcome the sorrow and pain, and also keeping full faith in God, had shared her life experiences about her journey fighting for the last four years.

She had also written an article during the Breast Awareness Month in October 2019, (Ref:  ‘God Lift My Heart In Faith Each Day’- Breast Cancer Survivor Smt Surekha Pai Shares Her Life Experiences ) in order to bring inspiration among others who are also fighting the Cancer Battle, and wants her Friends to Support & Encourage her to Fight against Cancer, and she quotes Nichiren Daishonin who said, “Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Strengthen your power of faith more than ever”. Team Mangalorean appreciates Mrs Surekha Pai’s love towards the fallen heroes of Kargil Conflict through this very sentimental song- a perfect tribute to the soldiers!

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