This year, in India, January 23 was named and celebrated as Prakaram Divas (Day of Valor). It was the finest tribute to the finest son and freedom fighter of India, Subhash Chandra Bose, lovingly known as Neta ji.

On that day, my heart went back to that unsung hero of ‘Azad Hind Fauj’, I met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1992.

I was visiting Kuala Lumpur for a few days. In search of Indian vegetarian food, I landed at banana leaf restaurant. It was a memorable treat; high quality food, at very affordable prices, served on a banana leaf on a common long table shared by all guests.

After finishing my food, as I stepped out, I noticed an old man washing dishes outside that restaurant.

I couldn’t move ahead. I was very disheartened to see that old man washing dishes. I asked him, why does he do it? Doesn’t he has any family members to take care of him at this age?

He said, “I have had my family in India.  I was in Azad Hind Fauj. When the Fauj disintegrated I decided to stay back (hide myself) in Malaysia. And ever since day, I am here feeding myself running errands like this.”

I said why don’t you go to India to locate your family?

He said, “I don’t want to be identified by anyone.”

I said, could I be of any help, in any manner.

He said, “I hope you will be returning to India. Hind Rahe, that is my only wish.”

 I only shed a few tears for him on the Prakaram Divas.

I have met a true freedom fighter. Lutyens had many fake.

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