Throughout the weekend, everyone has been talking about only one thing: the movie Neerja. Retelling a story of great courage, the movie managed to move us to tears by the end.
While Neerja Bhanot and her sacrifice have inspired the entire nation, we move the attention to her parents. Harish Bhanot, Neerja’s father, wrote an article for Hindustan Times on October 5, 1986, just a month after the hijack incident which killed Neerja Bhanot. He recollects everything from Neerja’s birth to September 5, 1986, the day of the attack.
Here are a few excerpts from the article:
“Neerja was a very sensitive, deeply affectionate and an extremely decent person who believed in sharing with her people all her joys but not the jolts. She had well defined principles and there was little room for compromise in that area.”
He further mentions Neerja’s ugly marriage, stating that those two months were the only times she wasn’t truly happy. He also talks how the headstrong girl didn’t let anything affect her and went on to become a model and Pan Am purser.
“In the normal course of events, Neerja would have been back in Bombay on Sunday, September 7, her birthday. But instead of that we collected her coffin from the airport. She, who died so that others could live, was cremated the following day at 11 a.m. amidst chanting of her favourite mantras as we said "Goodbye darling, please keep coming." The young model has set a model for her class the world over.”
Which she definitely has!
And in this footage, we see Rama Bhanot, Neerja’s mother, talking about how brave and resolute a woman Neerja was. When Neerja went for hijack training, her mother told her to quit the job. Neerja’s reply to this was, “I will die, but I won’t quit.”
To see Neerja’s mother talking about her death is heartbreaking. View the footage here.